Electric Cars/Rare Earth Elements

In Podcast by Brian Koberlein2 Comments

Electric cars hold the promise of helping society conserve energy and wean us away from fossil fuel. But it’s more complicated than that. On our show today is Dr. Callie Babbitt, and Assistant Professor of Sustainability at the Rochester Institute of Technology. She’s going to tell us why we need to consider the materials we use to build car batteries, and how we’ll reuse those materials when the batteries reach the end of their useful life. In our second half, we’ll talk about the rare earth elements used in batteries, where these materials come from, and where they can be found in space.

Host: Brian Koberlein
Guest: Callie Babbitt
Producer: Mark Gillespie
Music: Marcus Warner

The One Universe at a Time Podcast is produced at the Rochester Institute of Technology with support from the RIT College of Science.



  1. So are Tesla’s batteries like any other battery and they eventually wear out and stop holding their charge? I have never understood why this happens very well.

  2. They will wear out eventually, as the chemicals within the cell degrade or if continuously subjected to extreme conditions (very hot, very cold, depleting too much charge at once) that cause them to go outside normal operating conditions. But they should last much longer than batteries we are used to (single use batteries or rechargeable batteries used in electronics). Electric vehicle Lithium-ion batteries are designed/constructed to last for thousands of charge-discharge cycles, which translates into 8-10 years (assuming you charge up once or twice a day).

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