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The Role Of Patents In Growing Your EV Recycling Business
Electric vehicles (EVs) are the future of the automotive industry given their eco-friendly nature. The low running and maintenance costs, negative dependence on oil, and low-emission commuting ability have led to exponential growth in their manufacturing. But as the number of EVs increases, another danger is coming to the forefront- that of discarded EV batteries. As these batteries approach the end of their lifecycle, recycling and repurposing them is becoming crucial. And this is where the EV recycling business gets a boost.
New innovations are key to extracting valuable materials from existing batteries as well as recycling them effectively without harming the environment. Realizing this market potential, businesses and investors are keen to devise some new methods and processes for EV battery recycling and patent the same to gain a competitive advantage. Let us understand how patents can help the EV battery recycling businesses to maximize profits and expand their business.
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It is believed that by 2030, 15 million tons of lithium-ion batteries will have reached the end of their productive cycle. Given that the EV market is yet to implode, this number will only increase with the passing of time. The lithium-ion economy can only survive if it focuses on the 3 R’s i.e., reduce-reuse-recycle.
This presents a massive opportunity for start-ups as well as established businesses to profit from. Investors too are keen to capitalize on this booming market. Recently Posh, a start-up, was able to raise $3.8 million for its idea to develop a tech that would automate the battery recycling process.
Another company, Redwood Materials, led by J.B. Straubel, managed to raise $775 million from Amazon, Panasonic, Ford, T. Rowe Price and others to scale up their battery recycling business. The Volkswagen Group has also formed a new company, PowerCo, that will be responsible for managing their battery business from manufacturing to recycling, thus completing the loop.
The above examples are just the tip of the iceberg in the burgeoning EV battery recycling business which is fraught with opportunities.
Growth Of The EV Battery Recycling Market
The sustainability of the EV sector is dependent on developments and innovations in battery recycling technologies. Currently, EVs run on lithium-ion batteries which seem indispensable to the industry. In 2017, the EV battery recycling market was valued at $138.6 million, a figure expected to touch $2272.2 by 2025.
Battery Solutions, ACCUREC Recycling GmbH, American Managanese Inc., LI-CYCLE Corp, Recupyl, SITRASA, and Umicore are some of the prominent names in the business.
IP in EV Battery Recycling
Since 2015, there has been a significant rise in patent filing as well as R&D in this sector. The battery recycling industry benefits from a mixed strategy of using trade secrets and patents to attain exclusive rights over new inventions. Patents can prove a helpful tool in the marketing, monetization, and commercialization of the tech.
Securing a patent for an efficient battery recycling tech can help companies in:
- Expanding their business: The common practice for setting up and expanding a business is to build a manufacturing infrastructure. But sometimes one may lack the time or expertise to take the plunge. The next best option would be to acquire existing businesses and upgrade their infrastructure based on your requirements. But this too is subject to capital availability. This is where your IP can help. By pitching your tech to existing battery recyclers and showcasing the advantages of your tech, you can set up exclusive deals with them. This creates a mutually advantageous situation where the recycler benefits from your tech and you get access to an established infrastructure to aid expansion.
- Marketing: Since the recycling business runs on its ability to source used batteries, it is important to have cheap access to the same. But this is no easy feat given that most batteries have propriety tech that may prohibit everyone from dismantling/recycling them. In addition, some companies have an understanding with sellers to return the used batteries to them so they may either be repurposed or their parts utilized in the battery manufacturing process.
To overcome this limitation, patents are essential. They will help establish your company by proving that you have a unique and exclusive offering. Patents can be your USP in marketing your process/invention and raising the worth of your invention. This will attract investments as well as battery manufacturers who are always keen to acquire the latest recycling tech.
The market at present has limitless scope for new technology. There is an opportunity for research in the field of recycling to resolve the problem of battery disposal. Early entrants will benefit from the present scenario and will also be able to establish themselves before it gets crowded with companies clamoring for patents.
Building A Patent Portfolio
Since new inventions may take years to be patented, it is common practice for companies to acquire existing patents. A robust patent portfolio emphasizes quality and not quantity, which is why one must be vigilant when strategizing their portfolio-building initiatives.
Conducting IP due diligence is the most crucial step before partnering with any firm. It helps you ascertain the value of the Intellectual Property and determine where it fits into your business plans and vision.
Ultimately, the patent acquisition process is a constantly evolving one that entails identifying, selecting, and budgeting to maximize effectiveness.
EV battery recycling is the latest buzz in the market and one of the sectors the investors are banking upon. Discovering new processes to recover valuable materials from used batteries is a trend gaining popularity with companies and is critical to the maintenance of the EV automotive industry. The immense interest this sector is witnessing makes it the right time for companies and investors looking to dabble in the tech of the future.
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