31 Oct 2008
It all depends on the type of battery and its chemical composition and the amount of energy required to produce the raw materials and process them into a battery form. Pressure for companies to use renewables would reduce the battery manufacturing carbon foot print. Making anything takes energy especially one offs, so mass production has its benefits in many areas, reducing cost and energy bills, and this leads to a low product cost . Of course you still need energy to recharge the battery. The energy can come from renewables or from night time base loads that are currently redirected to street lights on motorways to avoid shutting the larger generators down. Is the claim of 50 times energy use related to the storage capacity of the battery or the life time storage? One might say, boiling a kettle is the same as plugging in an electric car. The quantity of power used by a domestic kettle is 3kWs until it boils. The same power requirement is required for an electric car to charge. It's substantially more efficient to charge a battery than most other forms of energy storage, however there are some exciting new technologies that companies like Green Motorsport are working on that reduce the impact and improve efficiency. One of the areas of research is the chemistry of the battery technology. In order to achieve sustainability, one requires a material and minerals that do not need vast complicated energy intensive processing. The other important factor is the materials availability. The abundance of the material is important, as well as the end life processing cost and the potential for efficient recycling. There are materials that have been identified recently that make a good environmentally friendly battery, that has the perfect combination of quailties for high speed electric cars. Battery technology has improved and will keep improving, the more we shift towards a low carbon economy.
Modern battery materials have progressed beyond the batteries of the past and can be recycled again and again while maintaining their physical and chemical properties. The new chemistries currently being utilised have been proven to have the same amount of each element at the end of a particular product cycle as at the beginning.