ABC 7 News: KGO

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) — By 2035, every passenger vehicle sold in California must be a zero-emission vehicle.

That means it must run on electricity, hydrogen or another alternative fuel that does not generate air pollution to operate.

The mandate is expected to reduce greenhouse gases in the state by about 35%.

But, while zero-emission vehicles are being touted as one solution to our climate crisis, their batteries could also represent an environmental hazard.

Currently, batteries from first-generation hybrid vehicles are starting to make their way to junkyards.

We visited several auto recyclers in the San Francisco area and found hybrid batteries tossed among other car parts or piled up in a corner. One was dangling from the engine compartment of an old Prius that no longer had a hood and had many parts already pulled out.

Operators did not know what to do with them.

“There are risks associated with these aged batteries or damaged batteries. Lithium-ion batteries that we use in electric vehicles are a fire hazard. It’s important to make sure that these batteries are managed correctly at the end of life,” said Alissa Kendal, a professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UC Davis.

Kendall said the metals in the batteries are hazardous and could leach into the environment if they are not properly handled.

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