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Scientists Turn Nuclear Waste Into Diamond Batteries That Could Last For Thousands Of Years

Scientists Turn Nuclear Waste Into Diamond Batteries That Could Last For Thousands Of Years

We have an unquenchable energy need. When we need to run anything that cannot be plugged in, electricity will have to come from a battery, and the quest for a better battery is being launched in laboratories around the globe. Hold that thought for a moment.

Nuclear waste is radioactive waste generated by nuclear power plants that no one wants to be kept near their houses or even carried through their communities. The ugly substance is poisonous and deadly, takes thousands of years to disintegrate completely, and we continue to produce more of it.

Now, a California-based business, NDB, says it can resolve both of these issues. They claim to have built a self-powered battery made entirely of radioactive waste that has a life expectancy of 28,000 years, making it ideal for your future electric car or iPhone 1.6 x 104. 

Rather than storing energy generated elsewhere, the battery generates its own charge. It is constructed of two kinds of nano-diamonds, which makes it almost crash-proof when used in vehicles or other moving things. Additionally, the business claims that its battery is safe since it emits less radiation than the human body.

NDB has already created a proof of concept and intends to construct its first commercial prototype once its laboratories restart operations after the COVID outbreak(which should be soon).

The nuclear waste from which NDB intends to manufacture its batteries consists of reactor components that have become radioactive as a result of exposure to nuclear power plant fuel rods. 

While this is not considered high-grade nuclear waste—that would be spent fuel—it is nonetheless very poisonous, and a nuclear plant generates a lot of it. The International Atomic Energy Agency estimates that the “core of a typical graphite-moderated reactor” may contain up to 2000 tonnes of graphite. (A tonne is equal to one metric tonne, or about 2,205 pounds.)

Carbon-14 is a radioisotope found in graphite. It is the same radioisotope used by archaeologists for carbon dating. It has a half-life of 5,730 years and ultimately decays into nitrogen 14, an anti-neutrino, and a beta decay electron, the charge of which piqued NDB’s curiosity as a possible source of electricity.

NDB cleanses graphite and then converts it to microscopic diamonds. The business claims that by using current technology, they’ve engineered their little carbon-14 diamonds to generate a large quantity of electricity. Diamonds also operate as a semiconductor, absorbing energy and dispersing it via a heat sink. 

However, since they are still radioactive, NDB encases the miniature nuclear power plants in other low-cost, non-radioactive carbon-12 diamonds. These glistening lab-created shells provide diamond-hard protection while also containing the carbon-14 diamonds’ radiation.

NDA intends to manufacture batteries in a variety of common and unique sizes, including AA, AAA, 18650, and 2170. Each battery will feature many stacked diamond layers, as well as a tiny circuit board and a supercapacitor for energy collection, storage, and discharge. The ultimate result, the business claims, is a battery that will last an extremely long period.

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Reducing the use of scarce metals — and recycling them — will be key to the world’s transition to electric vehicles.


The nascent recycling industry needs to economically deconstruct lots of formats.

According to NDB, a battery may live up to 28,000 years when utilized in a low-power setting, such as a satellite sensor. They predict a usable life of 90 years as a car battery, much longer than anyone vehicle would last—the business believes that one battery could theoretically power one pair of wheels after another. For consumer gadgets like phones and tablets, the firm estimates that a battery will last around nine years.

“Think of it in an iPhone,” NDB’s Neel Naicker tells New Atlas. “With the same size battery, it would charge it five times an hour from zero to full. Imagine that. Imagine a world where you wouldn’t have to charge your battery at all for the day. Now imagine for the week, for the month… How about for decades? That’s what we’re able to do with this technology.”

NDB expects commercialising a low-power version in a few of years, followed by a high-power version in roughly five years. If all goes according to plan, NDB’s technology will represent a significant step forward in terms of delivering low-cost, long-term energy to the world’s electronics and cars.

The company says, “We can start at the nanoscale and go up to power satellites, locomotives.”

Additionally, the business anticipates that its batteries will be comparably priced to existing batteries, including lithium-ion, and maybe much cheaper after they are produced of nuclear waste may even pay the company to take care of their poisonous issue.

The garbage of one enterprise becomes the diamonds of another.


Mirza Newton at physics-astronomy.com

Lithium costs a lot of money—so why aren’t we recycling lithium batteries?

Lithium costs a lot of money—so why aren’t we recycling lithium batteries?

The nascent recycling industry needs to economically deconstruct lots of formats.

Electric vehicles, power tools, smartwatches—Lithium-ion batteries are everywhere now. However, the materials to make them are finite, and sourcing them has environmental, humanitarian, and economic implications. Recycling is key to addressing those, but a recent study shows most Lithium-ion batteries never get recycled.

Lithium and several other metals that make up these batteries are incredibly valuable. The cost of raw lithium is roughly seven times what you’d pay for the same weight in lead, but unlike lithium batteries, almost all lead-acid batteries get recycled. So there’s something beyond pure economics at play.

It turns out that there are good reasons why lithium battery recycling hasn’t happened yet. But some companies expect to change that, which is a good thing since recycling lithium batteries will be an essential part of the renewable energy transition.

Lead-acid lessons

How extreme is the disparity between lithium and lead batteries? In 2021, the average price of one metric ton of battery-grade lithium carbonate was $17,000 compared to $2,425 for lead North American markets, and raw materials now account for over half of battery cost, according to a 2021 report by the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The imbalance of recycling is counterintuitive in terms of fresh material supply as well. Global sources of lithium amount to 89 million tons, most of which originate in South America, according to a recent United States Geological Survey report. In contrast, the global lead supply at 2 billion tons was 22 times higher than lithium.

Despite the smaller supply of lithium, a study earlier this year in the Journal of the Indian Institute of Science found that less than 1 percent of Lithium-ion batteries get recycled in the US and EU compared to 99 percent of lead-acid batteries, which are most often used in gas vehicles and power grids. According to the study, recycling challenges range from the constantly evolving battery technology to costly shipping of dangerous materials to inadequate government regulation.

Emma Nehrenheim, chief environmental officer at Northvolt batteries, said everyone expected lead to be phased out by now, but she attributes its continued economic success to high recycling rates.

“Every time you buy a battery for your car, you have to give the whole battery back, and then it goes into the recycling chain,” said Nikhil Gupta, lead author of the study and a professor of mechanical engineering at the Tandon School of Engineering at New York University. This hasn’t worked for lithium batteries, partly because so many formats exist. “These batteries are all over the place in different sizes,” he said. A related challenge is that the technology for lithium batteries changes rapidly — every one to two years, he said.

But overcoming these recycling challenges is a must. Lithium-based batteries hold more energy in a smaller package when compared to lead-acid batteries. They’re crucial for decarbonizing transportation and enabling a widespread transition to renewable energy by helping ensure a predictable supply of power from otherwise intermittent wind and solar. Achieving these transitions on a global scale is a massive undertaking. “That would require us to make major advancements in battery technology,” Gupta said. “There’s no doubt about it.”

Accordingly, global lithium consumption has increased 33 percent since 2020. If renewable energy goals sufficient to stop climate change are to be reached, then the demand for lithium is expected to grow 43-fold, according to the IEA. “What happens if we don’t have a lithium supply?” Gupta said. “There’s no good answer yet.”

Lithium isn’t the only material that may limit the use of these batteries. The anode and cathode of the batteries contain materials that are also subject to potential supply crunches, like cobalt and nickel. So, recycling could help solve multiple supply issues. “If you want to build a battery, an old battery contains exactly the same components,” Nehrenheim said.

A battery recycling boom

The USGS report noted that about two dozen companies in North America and Europe are recycling lithium batteries or have plans to—up from a single facility just a few years ago.

For the few facilities that can recover materials from lithium-ion batteries, traditional processes aren’t efficient enough to recover high-grade lithium to be used in remaking batteries. The pyrometallurgy method, for example, is easy to scale and works with any battery format, but it involves an energy-intensive process using high heat to incinerate the battery. While the ash will contain useful materials, pyrometallurgy can produce toxic fumes and limits the recovery of other valuable components. Other methods involve shredding the battery and then extracting materials using lengthy, complex chemical processes that vary depending on the battery technology used.

The routes to recycling battery materials have different challenges, and return the materials to different steps in the manufacturing process.

Direct recycling is an alternative that basically deconstructs the battery and retains the cathode and anode materials to be reconditioned. This method is in its early days, but it has the potential to be cheaper, safer, and more efficient. The process is made difficult by the need to manually break down a huge range of battery formats. A lithium battery pack contains modules that contain cells, and these cells are where the valuable metals are found. Manually getting to these cells is doable but tedious, and automation is needed to process high volumes.

“It’s a bit more challenging to recycle these kinds of materials,” said Northvolt’s Nehrenheim. The Swedish battery manufacturer has multiple programs through an initiative it’s calling Revolt, including a pilot recycling plant that has been operating since late 2020. They are also in the process of developing Revolt Ett—Swedish for “one”—a full-scale recycling plant aiming for the capacity to recycle 125,000 tons of batteries per year, beginning in 2023.

Like most companies, Northvolt’s process is not direct recycling. However, it dismantles the batteries down to the level of modules before beginning any crushing, shredding, or chemical processes. Last fall, Northvolt produced its first battery from using only recycled material. Northvolt has a robot it is fine-tuning at its pilot facility, and the company hopes to heavily automate most of the dismantling process in the future.

Part of the company’s plan for recycling success also involves calibration of the market, Nehrenheim said, to make sure that recycling is systemically integrated, which is supported by clear regulation. “If you build a recycling plant under UN or Scandinavian or European regulation right now, it’s highly regulated,” she said. “You can get great support from the authorities and how to define a safe operation.”


In 2015, Ryan Melsert went to work for Tesla just before development began on its Gigafactory outside of Reno, Nevada. While there, he and a small team worked to design the building, batteries, equipment, and every other element needed for the facility. Now, as CEO of American Battery Technology Company (ABTC), Melsert and his crew are working to do the opposite. “It really gave the fundamental understanding and learning of all of those individual manufacturing steps that is hard to gain otherwise.”

Their experience developing a lithium-ion car battery from start to finish, he said, helped him and his team intimately understand what would be needed to reverse the process to recycle effectively. A defect or end-of-life battery, he said, is just another resource that contains valuable metals.

“Much of recycling technologies today take the entire battery and simply drop it in a furnace and melt it or they drop it in a shredder and grind it,” he said. “What we do is back out and reverse order many of the manufacturing steps that we designed at Gigafactory to really remove the material in a much more strategic fashion to both lower costs and to increase recovery rates.” This automated “demanufacturing” makes the actual chemical extraction easier, he said.

Their two-part recycling process involves this disassembly, followed by a hydrometallurgical, or chemical, process. ABTC is currently building its first facility in northern Nevada, which has the potential, it says, to recover battery-grade materials in under three hours. The company expects it to be completed by the end of 2022 and have the ability to intake 20,000 metric tons of recyclable material per year. If achieved, that would amount to about a fifth of the total weight of raw lithium produced in 2021.

Despite rapid technology changes, the longer life span of lithium batteries provides room for recycling facilities to adjust. Most lithium batteries are in use for years before needing replacement, which can help companies like ABTC prepare for the next iteration in recycling. “There’s that latency,” Meslert said. “We’re able to see what’s in the field long before it comes back.”

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Tesla released more details about its effort to deploy large-scale battery recycling, and it claims that it can recover about 92% of battery cell materials with its recycling process.


If the battery no longer works, many mobile phones, computers, household robots or headphones end up in the trash. The European Parliament now wants to change that – and not only protect the environment.

Building a circular battery economy

One way to make recycling ubiquitous is to get manufacturers to think about recyclability from the start. The idea has gained traction in recent years: manufacturers and recyclers work together to profit while creating as little waste as possible. In a linear economy, when a battery runs out of charge, it ends up in a landfill. In a circular economy, instead of going to waste, batteries start their life over as raw materials and go right back into the manufacturing chain. “Once these metals are mined once, you can essentially keep them in that loop indefinitely,” Melsert said. This means, in theory, all the companies involved could profit indefinitely while wasting little or no material.

But for a circular battery economy to work, recycling plants have to match the output of manufacturing plants. “The manufacturing side is growing extremely quickly, and there are still zero commercial scale recycling plants,” Melsert said.

This would ensure a consistent supply, reduce costs and possibly lower the environmental footprint compared to mining. Melsert thinks to achieve this goal, it’s key to develop partnerships at all points in the supply chain, from refineries to vehicle manufacturers to battery recyclers. To help this effort, ABTC won a $2 million contract last year from the United States Advanced Battery Consortium—made up of General Motors, Ford, Stellantis, and the Department of Energy. The award provides more than two years of funding to demonstrate that producing batteries from recycled materials is better for the environment and the economy. It also means ABTC will be working with a cathode producer and battery recycler, as well as a cell technology developer.

Of lessons to be learned from lead-acid batteries, Melsert said, “Anywhere you can buy one, you can return one.” Making the right choice the easiest choice has proven effective for lead-acid batteries, and something similar needs to follow for Lithium-ion.

Innovation for Lithium-ion batteries is still in its adolescence, with major developments happening in little more than the last decade, compared to half a century ago for lead-acid. While ABTC has an ambitious time frame, Gupta said it could be another decade before solutions truly meet the needed scale. Still, he is optimistic. “As a scientist, I would say we will always find solutions.”


Shel Evergreen at Ars Technica

Harder than concrete but much more ecological: ByFusion turn tons of non-recyclable plastic into building blocks

Harder than concrete but much more ecological: ByFusion turn tons of non-recyclable plastic into building blocks

As much as we fight against single-use plastics, millions of tons continue to be produced. Some are reused, but there is a large amount of plastic that cannot be recycled. Fortunately, there are some solutions to reuse this huge amount of material.

That’s what Los Angeles-based company ByFusion does. Through a vaporization and compression process, they shape the plastics into blocks that they call ByBlocks and can be used for construction as they have a resistance as high as concrete.

More than 100 tons of plastic have already been turned into blocks

Byfusion plastic blocks

ByFusion blocks are strong enough to be used in any type of construction. We talk from houses to bus stops, passing through walls and other types of barriers. Its base size is 16 x 8 x 8 inches, which is about 40 x 20 x 20 centimeters .

As described by the company, the blocks are lighter than their equivalent in cement. Approximately 4.5 kilos less. But they claim they are just as durable.

The true innovation of this company is not the blocks, but the machine that allows them to be compacted. These machines are called Blockers. Blockers can turn tons of plastic into blocks without the need to classify or clean them.

ByFusion currently has one of these machines installed at its headquarters with the capacity to process up to 450 tons of plastic per year. The intention is to have up to 12 of these machines before the end of the year. To date, the company claims that it has already compacted 103 tons of non-recyclable plastic.

House made of plastic blocks

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In contrast to common perceptions, plastic is in no way near one material. Rather, it is a combination of many materials (polymers) with different chemical compounds and additives such as pigments or fibers, depending on its use. It is very difficult to tell the difference between different types of plastics, and this is what makes it difficult to separate and recycle them.


The Dutch studio’s limited-edition collection titled The Elements, showcasing wave-like 3D encoded beach furniture, is digitally manufactured from 80 per cent recycled plastic.

This company intends to distribute its machines on a large scale so that companies and municipalities can reuse all the non-recyclable plastic.

Among the uses that have been given to these blocks is the construction of a house. Of course, as part of these plastics can be susceptible to sunlight, the company explains that they must be covered with resistant paint designed for exteriors.

In the creation process, no type of glue or addition is incorporated. If we have 20 kilos of garbage, the material will be enough to make 20 kilos of blocks. An ingenious solution that can be an interesting patch to take advantage of all those plastics that should disappear, but unfortunately they are still very present.



Breakthrough in separating plastic waste: Machines can now distinguish 12 different types of plastic

Breakthrough in separating plastic waste: Machines can now distinguish 12 different types of plastic

In contrast to common perceptions, plastic is in no way near one material. Rather, it is a combination of many materials (polymers) with different chemical compounds and additives such as pigments or fibers, depending on its use. It is very difficult to tell the difference between different types of plastics, and this is what makes it difficult to separate and recycle them.

In collaboration with Vestforbrænding, Dansk Affaldsminimering Aps, and PLASTIX, researchers from the Department of Biological and Chemical Engineering at Aarhus University have now developed a new camera technology that can see the difference between 12 different types of plastics (PE, PP, PET, PS, PVC, PVDF, POM, PEEK, ABS, PMMA, PC and PA12). Together, these constitute the vast majority of household plastic types.

The technology makes it possible to separate plastics based on a purer chemical composition than is possible today, and this opens up for completely new opportunities to recycle plastics. The technology has been tested at pilot scale and is planned to be implemented at PLASTIX and Dansk Affaldsminimering Aps in spring 2022.

“With this technology, we can now see the difference between all types of consumer plastics and several high-performance plastics. We can even see the difference between plastics that consist of the same chemical building blocks, but which are structured slightly differently. We use a hyperspectral camera in the infrared area, and machine learning to analyze and categorize the type of plastic directly on the conveyor belt. The plastic can then be separated into different types. It’s a breakthrough that will have a huge impact on all plastics separation,” says Associate Professor Mogens Hinge, who is heading the project at Aarhus University.

The study has been published in the scientific journal Vibrational Spectroscopy.

Plastics are currently separated using near-infrared technology (NIR) or via density tests (floats/sinks in water). These methods can separate certain plastic fractions (for example PE, PP, and PET), but not with the same accuracy as the new technology, and therefore not with the chemical purity in the composition, and this is vital for becoming able to increase the recycling rate of waste plastic.

“The technology we’ve developed in collaboration with the university is nothing short of a breakthrough for our ability to recycle plastics. We look forward to installing the technology in our processing hall and starting in earnest on the long journey towards 100% utilization of waste plastic,” says Hans Axel Kristensen, CEO of PLASTIX.

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The Dutch studio’s limited-edition collection titled The Elements, showcasing wave-like 3D encoded beach furniture, is digitally manufactured from 80 per cent recycled plastic.


The LEGO Group today unveiled a prototype LEGO® brick made from recycled plastic, the latest step in its journey to make LEGO products from sustainable materials.

Plastic must be at least 96% pure by polymer type to be recycled in conventional industry. This means that the plastic has to be separated to an almost pure product in terms of chemical composition.

“Using the new technology, we are now a big step along the way,” says Associate Professor Mogens Hinge, who stresses that the technology is continuously being developed and that data indicates it may be possible to differentiate even further between polymer types and additives before long.

The hyper-spectral camera technology has been developed via cross-disciplinary collaboration, including BSc and MSc engineering students and researchers at the Department of Biological and Chemical Engineering at Aarhus University as well as experts from the participating companies.

The research is part of Denmark’s Re-Plast project. The project is headed by the Department of Biological and Chemical Engineering at Aarhus University. Other participants are the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Aarhus University, Vestforbrænding, Dansk Affaldsminimering and PLASTIX.


Aarhus University via Tech Xplore

Siemens Gamesa Launches Wind Turbine with RecyclableBlades — a World’s First

Siemens Gamesa Launches Wind Turbine with RecyclableBlades — a World’s First

In recent reports, Siemens Gamesa launched RecyclableBlade for wind turbines.  The technology, a world’s first of its kind, is commercially ready for offshore use.

Siemens Gamesa CEO Andreas Nauen says that the company envisions a society that centers caring for the environment as its goal.  “The time to tackle climate emergency is now, and we need to do it in a holistic way. In pioneering wind circularity — where elements contribute to a circular economy of the wind industry — we have reached a major milestone in a society that puts care for the environment at its heart,” he said. “The RecyclableBlade is another tangible example of how Siemens Gamesa is leading technological development in the wind industry.”

Siemens Gamesa’s RecylableBlade vs. Existing Wind Turbines

While existing wind turbines have some of their components such as the tower and the nacelle that are recyclable, having recyclable blades has remained a challenge.  That is, until the launch of the company’s newest technology.

Existing wind turbine blades are made of polymer composites that contain a variety of materials, including glass, carbon fiber, wood, and a resin system.  As the blades are manufactured, these components bind together, making it difficult to be separated once the turbines are decommissioned.

Siemens Gamesa’s RecyclableBlades, on the other hand, makes use of a new type of resin.  This enables efficient separation at the end of the life of the equipment.  Being separated, the materials may not be conveniently recycled.

The first six 81-meter long RecyclableBlades were made in Denmark.  The industrial giant aims to make all turbines fully recyclable by 2040.

It is also working with RWE Renewables with the installation and monitoring of the wind turbines in Germany at the Kaskasi offshore wind power plant, where energy production is projected for 2022 onwards. 

RWE Renewables Wind Offshore CEO Sven Utermöhlen expressed his enthusiasm for the innovative project. “We are pleased that our offshore wind farm Kaskasi is able to provide a fantastic facility for testing innovations; here we are preparing to test special steel collars and to use an improved installation method for foundations,” he said. “Now, Kaskasi installs the world’s first recyclable wind turbine blade manufactured by Siemens Gamesa. This is a significant step in advancing the sustainability of wind turbines to the next level.”


Carina Isobel at Engineer Rosie

The New Raw’s 3D-printed beach furniture gives marine plastic waste a new life

The New Raw’s 3D-printed beach furniture gives marine plastic waste a new life

The Dutch studio’s limited-edition collection titled The Elements, showcasing wave-like 3D encoded beach furniture, is digitally manufactured from 80 per cent recycled plastic.

Through the means of robotic 3D printing and marine plastic waste as the raw material, Dutch architects Panos Sakkas and Foteini Setaki have designed a limited-edition collection of beach furniture titled ‘The Elements’. As suggestive of the moniker, the collection comprising a fitting room, a footpath, and a sunbed, draws inspiration from the diversity of elements characteristic to the shore – “the carcasses of marine organisms, and saltation patterns on the sand and the waves”, to list a few. The soft sculptural forms come in two colours – aqua and sand – and a materiality focused on both visual and ergonomic comfort.

Each piece of the collection is made with 80% recycled marine plastic | The Elements | The New Raw | STIRworld
Each piece of the collection is made with 80 per cent recycled marine plastic Image: Courtesy of The New Raw

The project by Rotterdam-based studio, The New Raw, follows the practice’s larger goal of seeking to give a new life to discarded materials through mediations of design, robotics, and craftsmanship. Each object is crafted from 80 per cent recycled plastic and designed to be 100 per cent recyclable, rendering itself as a promising (in contrast to the common association of plastic waste) raw material for future interventions.

“Plastic is a major contributor to the pollution of the seas. However, living in urban regions, we tend to forget about our dependence on the sea that is related to food and oxygen supply,” says Sakkas and Setaki in an official statement. The duo arrived at the design through a rigorous ‘form follows process’ approach in which digital manufacturing gave shape to a refreshing visual language and a unique ergonomic design. The wavy forms that easily blend with the topography of beaches reveal 3D encoded textures, which as per the architects “act equally as ornament and as functional components to achieve climatic comfort during use, natural air ventilation, light irradiation, water drainage and cooling”. A programmed robot movement sculpted the forms layer by layer, bringing together a striking display of colours, textures and geometries; the engineered input minimised the printing and assembly time.

The wavy forms easily blend with the topography of beaches Image: Courtesy of The New Raw

Originally designed for Coca-Cola in Greece, the collection over the last few months was presented at six different locations in the country and has upcycled over 720 kg of plastic waste. The locations include Chania beach on the islands of Crete, Elli beach in Rhodes, and Glyfada closer to the Attica region.

With a philosophy that prioritises circular design and ‘making with waste’, The New Raw sets out to redefine “how we see and experience waste”. The studio employs decentralised systems in which local plastic waste is used as a material resource for projects. The practice is rooted in the idea that this could help achieve a sustainable future for coastal and remote areas in which local production can benefit from global design thinking and can act independently of global material supply chains.



Tesla claims 92% battery cell material recovery in new recycling process

Tesla claims 92% battery cell material recovery in new recycling process

Tesla released more details about its effort to deploy large-scale battery recycling, and it claims that it can recover about 92% of battery cell materials with its recycling process.

When it comes to emissions throughout the entire lifecycle, electric vehicles have two main advantages over gas-powered vehicles.

When it comes to the operation of the vehicles, electric vehicle owners have more choices of energy sources to charge their vehicles than just gasoline.

They can charge their vehicles using renewable energy, which will greatly reduce emissions generated by the use of their vehicles.

On the manufacturing front, EV detractors often claim that the energy and resources that it takes to build batteries counterbalance all the tailpipe advantages.

However, those detractors often leave out battery recycling, which makes all the difference for the full emission cycles for electric vehicles.

For years now, Tesla has been working with third-party recyclers to recover materials from their end-of-life battery packs.

But the automaker has also been working on its own “unique battery recycling system.

Today, with the release of its 2020 Impact Report, Tesla released more details on its battery recycling effort.

Tesla confirmed that the first phase of its own battery cell recycling facility was deployed late last year:

“In the fourth quarter of 2020, Tesla successfully installed the first phase of our cell recycling facility at Gigafactory Nevada for in-house processing of both battery manufacturing scrap and end-of-life batteries. While Tesla has worked for years with third-party battery recyclers to ensure our batteries do not end up in a landfill, we understand the importance of also building recycling capacity in-house to supplement these relationships. Onsite recycling brings us one step closer to closing the loop on materials generation, allowing for raw material transfer straight to our nickel and cobalt suppliers. The facility unlocks the cycle of innovation for battery recycling at scale, allowing Tesla to rapidly improve current designs through operational learnings and to perform process testing of R&D products.”

The automaker shared a chart showing that it can recover over 92% of raw battery materials:

Tesla also argues that its recycling effort will be even better for its own battery cells manufacturing in-house as the process will be integrated at each manufacturing site:

“As the manufacturer of our in-house cell program, we are best positioned to recycle our products efficiently to maximize key battery material recovery. With the implementation of in-house cell manufacturing at Gigafactory Berlin-Brandenburg and Gigafactory Texas, we expect substantial increases in manufacturing scrap globally. We intend to tailor recycling solutions to each location and thereby re-introduce valuable materials back into our manufacturing process. Our goal is to develop a safe recycling process with high recovery rates, low costs and low environmental impact. From an economic perspective, we expect to recognize significant savings over the long term as the costs associated with large-scale battery material recovery and recycling will be far lower than purchasing additional raw materials for cell manufacturing.”

In fact, Tesla is now becoming a producer of nickel, cobalt, and other raw materials. Instead of being mined in the field, the materials are being mined from used battery packs.

The company says that it had 1,300 tons of nickel, 400 tons of copper, and 80 tons of cobalt recycled in 2020.

The issue of recycling batteries is so important that Tesla co-founder and long-time CTO JB Straubel quit the company in 2019 to start his own company, Redwood Materials, and develop recycling processes.

Redwood even has a contract to recycle scrap from Panasonic’s battery cell production at Tesla Gigafactory Nevada, where the automaker deployed its own new recycling facility.


Fred Lambert at Electrek

Colgate unveils recyclable toothpaste tubes – and offers tech to rivals

Colgate unveils recyclable toothpaste tubes – and offers tech to rivals

Colgate-Palmolive has revealed their first recyclable toothpaste tube – the result of five years research – and immediately offered the technology to rival companies to help reduce landfill waste.

Colgate Smile for Good plastic tubes use high-density polyethylene (HDPE), classified as recyclable by the Australasian Recycling Label Program of the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO). It can be disposed of at kerbside plastic recycling bins.

“Making toothpaste tubes part of the circular economy will help keep plastic productive and eliminate waste,” said Simon Petersen, GM at Colgate-Palmolive South Pacific. 

“Colgate-Palmolive wants all toothpaste tubes to meet the same third-party recycling standards that we’ve achieved, so we are openly sharing our technology with toothpaste competitors as well as manufacturers of all kinds of tubes.”

Colgate Smile for Good tube’s HDPE material is based on the same plastic that companies used to make 2L milk bottles and other plastic containers that are recyclable. Its engineers developed a solution using different grades and thicknesses of HDPE laminated into a tube to make it squeezable since the type of plastic used on milk bottles is too rigid.

Most toothpaste tubes are usually made from sheets of plastic laminate with a thin layer of aluminium. These are difficult to recycle through conventional methods leading to 50 million tubes ending up in landfills annually in Australia.

The new toothpaste adds to the company’s global target to create 100-per-cent recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging by 2025 and to reach Australia’s 2025 National Packaging Targets as well. 

Full story by Remedios Lucio at InsideFMCG

Revealed: why hundreds of thousands of tonnes of recycling are going up in smoke

Revealed: why hundreds of thousands of tonnes of recycling are going up in smoke

Investigation questions eco-friendly claims of incineration industry

When it comes to planet-friendly habits, recycling is by far the UK’s most popular, with 87% of householders claiming they do so regularly, according to the Waste and Resources Action Programme. But an investigation by Channel 4’s Dispatches into where our rubbish goes, and the role played by energy-from-waste incineration plants, has found that millions of tonnes of our carefully sorted empties are simply being burned after they’re collected.

Freedom of information requests reveal that, on average, 11% of rubbish collected for recycling is incinerated. In some areas the figures are far higher: 45% in Southend-on-Sea and 38% in Warwickshire.

Lucy Siegle presents Dispatches: Dirty Truth About Your Rubbish.

The Dispatches team also found a direct correlation between regions tied into incineration contracts and low recycling rates. In England, more waste is now burned than recycled – 11.6 million tonnes was incinerated in 2019 while 10.9 million was sent for recycling. There are 48 energy-from-waste incinerators across the country, and industry figures show 18 more are planned.

Despite householders’ enthusiasm for recycling, rates in England remain in the doldrums – at 45%, according to government figures, the same level as in 2017, and a long way from the revolutionary shift in waste and recycling promised by the environment bill (postponed to the next parliamentary cycle).

Full story by Lucy Siegle at The Guardian

The Big Lie of Recycling and ‘90s Environmentalism

The Big Lie of Recycling and ‘90s Environmentalism

“If the public thinks the recycling is working, then they’re not going to be as concerned about the environment,” says Larry Thomas, who headed the main plastics industry group in the ‘90s.

As kids in the ‘80s and ‘90s, environmentalism meant turning off the water when you brushed your teeth and cutting rings on soda packs, so sea turtles didn’t choke. It meant watching Captain Planet on Saturday mornings: earth, air, fire, water, and inexplicably, heart, all joined together fighting the powers that would pollute. When we got a little older, it meant recycling, sorting different kinds of glass and packaging so that they could be remade into playground mats and backpacks.

I have been devastated to learn that, by and large, recycling plastics is a big lie. That, in the ’90s, we were all subject to a massive marketing campaign funded by the immensely profitable and thoroughly villainous plastics industry. That no more than 10% of the plastic that is recycled has gotten reused in other consumer products. That’s not nothing, given the mind-blowing amounts of garbage that we humans produce. But it’s not what we thought it was, and it’s not enough.

Full story by Lara Henneman at Medium