If electric cars are equipped with so-called solid-state batteries, their impact on the Environment could be significantly smaller than that of current lithium-ion batteries.
Researchers have come to this conclusion in an analysis for the environmental organization Transport & Environment. According to the report’s authors, the number of greenhouse gases released by the production and use of cars with next-generation batteries could be reduced by almost a quarter. Furthermore, if the necessary raw materials are extracted most sustainably, those emissions can even be reduced by 39 percent.
Electric cars themselves do not emit CO2 or other gases that contribute to global warming. However, emissions do occur during production. The generation of electricity also causes emissions. Indirectly, it makes a lot of difference in how efficient and clean the batteries are.
Solid state batteries are in full development. Unlike current batteries, they do not contain liquid electrolytes. Another important difference is that they have a higher energy density. In addition, less material is needed in total to make them. Taken together, a solid-state battery of the same weight can take a car further than a lithium-ion battery. As a result, the emissions per kilowatt hour of energy are lower, according to the researchers of the specialized agency Minviro. They expect the new kind of battery to break through in the second half of this decade.
Exactly how much lower the emissions are is closely related to how the raw materials are mined. For example, if lithium is extracted from the mineral spodumene or sediment, it is a lot more polluting than if it is extracted from brine or water pumped from deep within the earth. Currently, lithium is mainly mined in a polluting way. Transport & Environment calls it “crucial” to ensure that this is done sustainably.