The Race To Decarbonise Electric-Vehicle Batteries

In the race to attain zero carbon emissions, the world has transitioned from petrol to electric vehicles. The electric vehicles (EVs) revolution has vehemently altered the automotive industry. In 2022, EV sales exceeded ten million, with 14% of all new cars sold being electric, as revealed by Global Electric Car Market Statistics. Cars and commercial vehicles run by internal-combustion engines emit carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide. Unlike such vehicles, EVs do not emit tailpipe emissions directly from burning diesel and gas lines. This is one side of the coin that sets electric vehicles apart from conventional vehicles. Albeit, battery-powered vehicles come with their own emission challenge, i.e., the production of their lithium-ion batteries is extremely carbon-intensive. 

Large lithium-ion battery production is the primary source of total emissions from the production of EV vehicles, taking 40 to 60 per cent of total production emissions into account, as highlighted by Mckinsey & Co. With the rising concern of population, the demand for EVs is also increasing; consequently, the demand for such batteries is also surging. In such a topsy-turvy situation, manufacturers are also galloping to curb these emissions, and individual OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) decisions can make a great difference. The emission level from EV battery production is determined by several factors, including design choices, range and freight requirements, vehicle type, production, and sourcing location as well. In an urge to reduce carbon footprints from the world, developing domestic battery supply chains has become increasingly significant as more countries strive to move towards electric mobility from gasoline vehicles. 

China dominates the battery market with a more than 70% market share. The country was the leader in the battery battle in 2022, consisting of 80% of global lithium-ion battery manufacturing capacity, which the United States further followed with 6% only. Taking the European countries into consideration, they inclusively account for around 10% of global battery manufacturing. During the manufacturing process of lithium-ion batteries, analytical requirements in quality control and monitoring is requisite to producing a sustainable battery, creating zero carbon footprint emission. The quality parameter is highly required and needs to be monitored at every stage, from raw materials that further help maintain production efficiency and reduce waste. 

With an aim to achieve zero emission goals, the global lithium-ion manufacturing capacity is projected to more than double by 2025. Mckinsey & Co. reveals that within five to seven years, the carbon footprint of EV battery production might bring down by an average of 75%. Taking sustainable and immediate actions across the supply chain is highly required to reduce the effects of carbon emissions from the production of lithium-ion batteries. Additionally, many other ideas have been explored to handle this situation, including the development of recycling solutions for some battery components. It is also revealed that carbon emissions from recycled materials are 4 times lesser than those of the raw materials used from primary sources. 

Many experts in this field have recommended practical approaches to reduce the carbon footprint of EV batteries. Reduction in the size of batteries, adoption of green mobility solutions for transportation, and seeking more sustainable alternatives to the chemical manufacturing processes are the few steps that can act as catalysts in this approach. Since the material and energy used to produce EV batteries rightly explain their heavy carbon footprint emission. As EV batteries entail cobalt, lithium, nickel, and graphite, all these are the major contributor of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in their mining process. The adoption of advanced strategies and technologies will help manufacturers to produce batteries that are environmentally friendly. 

Having said that, the idea of producing sustainable EV batteries might not work until the proper implementation. However, successful decarbonization demands strategic collaboration with the value chain, including stakeholders, manufacturers, and experts who will together build zero-emission batteries. Companies can achieve this goal today by garnering primary and crucial data from their suppliers to access the decarbonization option. Maintaining transparency between the suppliers and other people will help companies pick the right and robust strategies to consider the opportunity, risk, and cost involved. Staying updated with advanced technologies is another option to set the footprint in the larger Race to decarbonize EV vehicles to make the world environmentally friendly. With this approach in mind, people will witness the world free from carbon footprints and incline more toward buying EV vehicles to make the world a better place to live. 

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