9.3 Transportation: The Battery Problem

Author: Malak Fathy

ABSTRACT: The battery problem stems from battery management and the batteries itself. The more people utilize devices, the more they need to be powered, therefore the more energy needs to be generated.

Image credit: (Fogelman, 2019)

MAIN:

The battery problem is an issue that is environmentally deteriorating. Matters that arise with batteries include costly expenses, shortage of longevity, and they are explosive if they are not cooled in the right way. The use of technology in businesses has been quickly inclining as technological advances have improved infinitely over the centuries but in accordance with this, more energy generation is required which worsens the environment’s state. The amount of electricity that these businesses require to power their products has substantially increased and will continue to increase over the coming years “No matter which way you look at it, lithium-ion (“Li-ion”) battery demand is set to surge about tenfold between 2018 and 2030” (Fogelman, 2019). The more products and services like these are being produced and put in use, the more they need to be powered, therefore the more energy needs to be produced and stored.

Batteries are a necessity to the process of decarbonization. Lithium-ion batteries that use solid electrodes and solid electrolyte require lithium to function properly and they are often used in electric cars and energy storage systems, lessening the use of fossil fuels. The method of processing and extracting lithium causes pollution and eventually leads to leakage of toxic chemicals and it also wastes a great quantity of energy as well as water, proving that the negative effects and the damage this has on the environment far outnumbers the benefits. “Batteries are necessary to replace fossil fuels with clean energy and to electrify our vehicles, but they don’t have to cost us the Earth. What we need is more efficient, durable batteries produced from responsibly sourced materials to alleviate the burden on the planet and on those communities that have been affected along the way” (Cool Products, 2019).

The risks found with the use of lithium-ion batteries are high as they flood the waste stream, and the fires they have started in the past have required over a million gallons of water to suppress the fire. They have also impacted carbon footprint immensely as the main goal of electric cars is to reduce carbon footprint but manufacturing these batteries has emitted 74% more carbon dioxide than just producing regular cars (Bloomberg, 2018). The key element here is how and where the battery is made and where it receives electric power from. Some solutions to help reduce these risks include manufacturing more resourceful electric cars, training to effectively diminish fires without wasting large amounts of water, avoid using electricity when it’s not needed, and using methods like raw material extraction. Regardless of the high dangers, lithium is the best available option. By working to find more solutions, it will become a safe one as well.

RESOURCES:

Bloomberg. (2018, 10 16). Lithium Batteries’ Dirty Secret: Manufacturing Them Leaves Massive Carbon Footprint. Retrieved from Industry Week: https://www.industryweek.com/technology-and-iiot/article/22026518/lithium-batteries-dirty-secret-manufacturing-them-leaves-massive-carbon-footprint

Cool Products. (2019, 05 29). The problem with batteries . Retrieved from Cool Products: https://www.coolproducts.eu/eu-ambition/the-problem-with-batteries/

Fogelman, R. (2019, 10 03). September 2019 Fire Report: The Lithium-ion Battery Problem Worsens. Retrieved from Waste360: https://www.waste360.com/safety/september-2019-fire-report-lithium-ion-battery-problem-worsens

Nardini, S. (2013, 04 09). Reducing Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Electricity Sector Using Smart Electric Grid Applications. Retrieved from Hindawi: https://www.hindawi.com/journals/je/2013/845051/

Palandrani, P. (2020, 12 09). Four Companies Leading the Rise of Lithium & Battery Technology . Retrieved from Global X: https://www.globalxetfs.com/four-companies-leading-the-rise-of-lithium-battery-technology/

Sperling, E. (2020, 09 14). The battery problem. Retrieved from SemiEngineering: https://semiengineering.com/we-have-a-battery-problem/

Willuhn, M. (2020, 10 28). The issues with lithium-ion battery recycling – and how to fix them. Retrieved from PV Magazine: https://www.pv-magazine.com/2020/10/28/the-issues-with-lithium-ion-battery-recycling-and-how-to-fix-them/

BIOGRAPHY

Malak Fathy is a third year Interior Design student at Ryerson University living in Oakville, Ontario. Her passion is helping others as well as the environment to allow for a better way of living. She is proud of the certificate received upon her internship completion, stating that she is a hard worker with determination to complete all tasks she was given.

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