The future of electric vehicles (EVs) is booming in the automotive industry. With government investment and policy changes, it’s clear EV’s are the future of transportation. And with studies proving that EVs have far less carbon emissions while on the road, the benefit for the environment is clear. However, there is an important issue in this transition that is not often discussed, and that is what happens after electric vehicles reach the end of their life. Are electric vehicles’ parts just as recyclable as those with internal combustion engines?
At the end of a fuel powered vehicle’s life, many materials are reusable or recyclable including parts, steel, aluminum, and plastic. In contrast, the return in value of electric vehicles has been uncertain. Different parts are being used in electric vehicles, making their recycling process uncertain.
How EV Recycling Can Improve
Electric vehicle models are rapidly being manufactured, but recycling processes at current facilities have been developed for ICE parts. A new concept called Zero Emission Mobility (Zem) may guarantee an increase in electric auto recycling returns and sustainability.
Zem is a smart vehicle concept, produced by students at the University of Eindhoven in the Netherlands. Even better for the planet than traditional EVs, Zem’s technology guarantees that every stage of an electric car’s life is sustainable. This smart car reduces CO₂ emissions during its production, use, and end-of-life, not just while it’s being driven on the road.
There are multiple methods Zem uses, specifically with post-life recycling in mind. For instance, Zem’s parts are 3-D printed. With this design, the 3-D printed parts can be recycled and reused in future vehicles. Also, the car’s coating and tires are made up of “carbon black”. Carbon black is made from end-of-life vehicles’ tires, paint, and more. These materials differ from what is being used right now, in both electric and gas powered cars.
Eindhoven students surround the Zem concept car.
Recycling Electric Vehicles
Right now, recycling current electric vehicle models comes with unknown challenges. As electric vehicle sales increase each year, methods for recycling electric cars must also increase. Circular ideas such as Zem will change auto recycling as we know it, and definitely for the better. These methods would ensure that electric vehicles are carbon neutral and recyclable throughout their entire lifespan.
To learn more about the importance of electric vehicles and cutting carbon emissions, click here.