Batteries: New mobility demands see renewed emphasis on raw material sustainability in the EU

EIT Raw Materials held the Expert Forum on Sustainable Materials for Future Mobility, Electrification and Lightweight Design in Turin, Italy in early October. At the event, Roskill presented its outlook for raw materials impacted by growing demand from EV applications. The forum discussed European strategy in highlighting and securing raw material supply chains, including announcements from the EU Commission regarding sustainability and life-cycle analysis for battery raw materials and funding totalling €10Bn (US$10.09Bn) for research during the Horizon 2021–2027 period.

Roskill View

At the conference, Roskill forecast the major battery raw materials to show strong and sustained demand growth in the years to 2030, with automotive applications forecast to exceed 90% of global lithium-ion battery capacity demand by 2023. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) forecast EVs on the road in 2028 to total between 50M and 200M units and expects this to increase to approximately 900M units by 2040. The automotive-manufacturer highlighted the wide range of raw materials required for its electrification vision and discussed raw material trends including: the shift to NMC 811 cathode materials; the reduction of rare earth elements in displays as part of the shift to OLED technologies; the substitution of indium in touch screens with silver nano-wires and graphene nano-tube technologies.

The sustainability of raw materials for battery components was highlighted by multiple presenters, with Umicore stating that 30kt of cobalt was lost from the supply chain in 2018 through the disposal of batteries—cobalt which could have been recycled. French multinational mining and metallurgical company Eramet also plans to commission battery recycling in the EU with a pilot facility planned for 2020/2021. Eramet stressed the importance of standardisation in the lithium-ion battery industry in order to aid automation of pack disassembly and processing to reduce costs.

Concerns were raised over the development of next generation battery technologies with SAFT and Solvay both suggesting solid state technologies will not be available for EV models during the coming decade.

More information on the market trends of lithium-ion batteries and battery raw materials can be found in Roskill’s 3rd Edition of the Lithium-ion Batteries: Outlook to 2028 report published in April 2019, or in Roskill’s range of reports covering the lithium, cobalt, graphite and nickel markets.

Contact the author

This article was written by David Merriman. Please get in touch below if you wish to discuss further:

Contact the author