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Sustainability & Profitability of Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling

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New Collaboration Balances Sustainability and Profitability of Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling

In our pursuit of sustainable vitality options, the environmental and provide chain impacts of the lithium-ion batteries that energy electrical autos shouldn’t be neglected. Whereas researchers around the globe are decided to extend the lifetime worth of batteries with breakthrough designs, recycling methods, and reuse functions, these technological developments could have unintended penalties elsewhere within the battery life cycle.

At the moment, probably the most eco-friendly battery designs are additionally the least worthwhile to recycle. Enter a brand new collaboration between the Nationwide Renewable Power Laboratory (NREL) and ACE Inexperienced Recycling (ACE), which goals to develop and optimize recycling methods that can bridge the hole between sustainability and profitability, particularly for lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries. Funding for this analysis was supplied by the Division of Power’s Car Applied sciences Workplace by way of the ReCell Heart.

“Present hydrometallurgical recycling strategies give attention to extracting high-value supplies from LFP batteries, similar to lithium and copper,” mentioned Andrew Colclasure, who leads NREL’s battery supplies growth and modeling analysis. “To encourage a extra holistic method to recycling, we should show environment friendly processes that additionally recycle low-value supplies similar to graphite and iron phosphate into commercially viable merchandise. We sit up for working alongside our business companions to advance low-cost recycling applied sciences to make the method extra economical and environmentally pleasant.”

Up to date Battery Designs Sign Future Challenges for Recyclers

The lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC) batteries traditionally favored by automakers use costly and supply-constrained vital supplies, together with cobalt, nickel, and lithium. Issues about materials availability, moral sourcing, and prices have prompted quite a few automakers to transition to cobalt- and nickel-free LFP batteries. In consequence, LFP batteries elevated from 6% of the lithium-ion battery market in 2020 to 27% in 2022 (Worldwide Power Company).

The shift to LFP batteries could deliver reduction to the cobalt provide chain, nevertheless it additionally presents a problem for battery recyclers, who goal high-value vital supplies for extraction. In consequence, LFP batteries are presently much less prone to be recycled, regardless of the rising demand for graphite electrodes. Collectively, NREL and ACE hope to show strategies to economically recycle supplies, similar to graphite, from LFP cathodes.

“By specializing in graphite now, we hope to strengthen the vitality supplies provide chain and keep away from future shortage,” Colclasure mentioned. “To construct a round financial system for electrical autos, we should implement sustainable practices all through the battery life cycle, and that features recycling low-value supplies.”

Collaboration Explores Financial Alternatives for LFP Battery Recycling

As a part of this collaboration, NREL will use its capabilities in cell manufacturing, modeling, and evaluation to help ACE in evaluating commercialization of their propriety LFP recycling know-how. Total, the venture goals to determine optimum recycling parameters for iron phosphate and graphite that can maximize efficiency and lifelong necessities of batteries made out of recycled supplies utilizing ACE’s know-how.

“We’re excited to work with the proficient workforce at NREL in our journey to commercialize our lithium-ion battery recycling know-how and transfer towards a extra sustainable home battery supplies provide chain,” mentioned ACE Inexperienced’s co-founder and chief know-how officer, Vipin Tyagi. “Upcycling graphite may also help meet the USA’ demand for graphite electrodes whereas deepening our technological and engineering management.”

Revolutionizing Battery Recycling at NREL

The rising transition to electrical autos is a big step towards decarbonizing transportation, however the street to a clear vitality future would require environment friendly and sustainable recycling processes to mitigate the environmental impacts of lithium-ion batteries. NREL is spearheading battery recycling options with holistic and forward-thinking analysis, each on the management workforce for ReCell and thru collaborations with business consultants.

Study extra about NREL’s vitality storage analysis and sustainable transportation and mobility analysis. And join NREL’s quarterly transportation and mobility analysis publication, Sustainable Mobility Issues, to remain present on the newest information.

By Rebecca Martineau. Article from NREL.


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