According to a report from the Nikkei in Japan (via Hybrid Cars), Nippon Mining & Metals Co. and GS Yuasa Corp. are each planning to begin collecting used lithium ion batteries from hybrid and electric cars to be recycled. Apparently, it's not exactly a straightforward process to extract and process the lithium buried deep inside individual battery cells, but both companies are working on the technology.

A bit closer to home, Toxco, the largest battery recycler in the States, received a $9.5 million grant from the DOE last month to build a new plant to recycle lithium ion batteries. Toxco already operates a plant in British Columbia that processes and recycles lithium-based batteries, but there aren't any recycling plants in the U.S. at present that deal with lithium.

At present, most hybrids still use nickel metal hydride batteries, but that technology is quickly being phased out in favor of lithium ion units. As pointed out by Hybrid Cars, there isn't exactly a shortage of lithium in the world, but recycling what we already have is still highly desirable and potentially profitable.

[Source: Hybrid Cars]

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