Challenges and recent developments in supply and value chains of electric vehicle batteries: A sustainability perspective
Lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) play a key role in advancing electromobility. With an increasing trend in the demand for LIBs, the sustainability prospect of LIBs lifecycle faces many challenges that require proactive approaches. There are various sustainability challenges and risks across the supply and value chains of LIBs from mining, material supplies to Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), users to final disposal. Risks are for example the increased raw material demands as well as some economic risks due to price increment or political instabilities in some countries within the raw material supply chain. Despite the promising research efforts on the performance metrics of LIBs and advancing the technology, the research on the various aspects of sustainability of LIBs and its life cycle are still in its infancy and require closer attention. As the editorial of the Special Issue on sustainable supply and value chains of EV batteries, this article presents some of the most pressing challenges of EV LIBs across the different stages of its life cycle. It covers issues from supply and demand of the battery raw materials, battery manufacturing, use, and end-of-life treatments. Within this context the reported findings of some 20 different research teams from across the globe, the state-of-the-art, technical or policy gaps in EV LIBs research and development are presented, as well as market instruments such as innovative business models, and governmental interventions like subsidies or regulations. We grouped the materials presented into five main themes (1) EV and LIB materials demand projections (2) EV LIBs international trade risk (3) EV battery regulation and adoption (4) EV LIBs life cycle assessment (5) and EV LIBs reverse logistics. We conclude by discussing some future research challenges such as the need for more reliable and applicable prediction models that use accurate data on EV stock and end-of-life EVs. Finally, we argue that more collaboration between academia, manufactures, OEMs and the battery recycling industry is needed to implement successful circular economy strategies to achieve environmentally friendly, flexible and cost-efficient battery supplies, use and recycling processes.