The Environmental Impact of Batteries vs. Propane

A lithium mining operation

In our everyday lives, batteries power everything from flashlights and cell phones to remote controls and handheld tools. Yet, the environmental cost of disposing of these batteries often goes unnoticed. Unlike batteries, propane boasts a virtually indefinite shelf-life, maintaining its quality over time without the immediate need for consumption. This raises questions about the sustainability of electricity storage methods and their environmental impact.

The Manufacturing Process of Batteries

The production of batteries, especially those heavyweights nearing 1,000 pounds required for electric vehicles (EVs), involves mining critical minerals like cobalt, lithium, graphite, nickel, and manganese. Currently, enough of these materials are available underground, but unfortunately for Americans, most of the mining takes place overseas. While these minerals are available today, many question if they will be available to meet the upcoming demand of the future. This led the CEO of Rivian to give this warning, “the auto industry could soon face a shortage of battery supplies for electric vehicles – a challenge that could surpass the current computer-chip storage.”1

Unfortunately, there’s a paradox where supporters of electric vehicles often express concerns about mining practices. The closure of the US Bureau of Mines in 1996, after 85 years, marked a turning point, subtly reflecting a societal shift towards preferring material-intensive vehicles with less emphasis on domestic mining. This trend has led to an increased reliance on mining operations abroad, despite the potential environmental and ethical implications.

Conversely, propane is made right here in America. Offering an environmentally friendly alternative to the resource-intensive process of battery production.

Issues with Recycling EV Batteries

When it comes to end-of-life solutions for batteries, recycling is neither straightforward nor environmentally benign. The process is costly, inefficient and generates emissions, complicating the green image of electric vehicles.2 This necessitates a holistic view of environmental impact, considering both the production and disposal phases of battery life.

Propane as a Green Alternative to Electric Vehicles

Propane, recognized as a clean fuel by the Federal Government, presents a viable solution, especially for fleet operations. Its abundance and readiness for use, coupled with its widespread application across Missouri for farming, ranching, and heating, highlight propane’s role as a sustainable energy source.

This comparison sheds light on the need for a more environmentally conscious approach to our energy choices. Propane is an environmentally friendly, domestically produced and efficient alternative to the environmentally and ethically challenging practices associated with battery production and recycling.