BMW i.FE18 Formula E racer, Ad Diriyah 2018
They say racing improves the breed. Usually that means learning to make cars go faster or handle or stop better.
Electric-car racing series Formula E aims not just to improve the performance of electric cars but also to inspire the world to buy cleaner, more efficient cars.
Formula E announced a partnership in February with Belgian recycling company Umicore to recycle all the batteries used in Formula E race cars.
Formula E collected spent batteries from racing teams and sent them to Umicore where they will be sorted, and dismantled. Then Umicore will put them through a proprietary smelting and hydrometallurgical process to recover all the metals.
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Series organizers say the metals in the battery are infinitely recyclable, so they can be made into new batteries over and over.
Such battery recycling has been a key question for electric cars. EV batteries comprise a large portion of the materials used in electric cars and their production consumes resources—more resources than building a gas engine, according to automakers.
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They use far less energy in driving than gas cars but to be an environmentally sound solution throughout the life of the battery it helps to minimize the resource consumption of their heavy batteries.
So far, automakers have focused on finding ways to reuse electric-car batteries, such as for solar storage or storage at charging stations. Few electric cars are old enough to generate a supply of used batteries to make large-scale recycling programs profitable.
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Umicore is one of the few recyclers in operation around the world. BMW has also set up plans for Umicore to recycle batteries from its i3. In several countries around the world where electric cars are the most prevalent, automakers are responsible to ensure that their EV batteries are reused and recycled to keep them out of the waste stream.
If Formula E’s recycling program can demonstrate for carbuyers that EV batteries are fully recyclable, that should eliminate one of the major objections to them in some carbuyers’ minds.