Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Market to Advance as Researchers Propound a Method that Could Help Directly Recycle Li-On Batteries

Posted On April 16, 2022     

Li-ion (Lithium-ion) batteries continue to be the most popular choice for high-powered consumer gadgets. They are used in a wide variety of applications, ranging from electric cars to grid-scale storage solutions. According to research, by the year 2040, an estimated 2.9 million Li-ion battery packs for electric vehicles would have reached the end of their useful life. Denoting, they will no longer run at peak capacity, a condition known as "end of life." Therefore, it is necessary for researchers to develop safe and sustainable recycling techniques for these batteries to achieve future clean energy targets.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is racing against the clock to improve recycling methods. The idea would ensure that the Li-ion supply chain stays stable. Furthermore, it would also help reduce environmental risks connected with battery disposal by increasing the integrity of recovered materials.

The team has presented a novel way for detecting metallic pollutants and impurities that obstruct current recycling processes. The research could benefit the Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Market immensely as battery recycling focuses on direct recycling in order to reuse value-added products.

 Researchers stated that in order to arrive at the method, they relithiate and upcycle aging cathode materials for future batteries. However, lithium battery designs are not monolithic, and there is still more work to be done.

The first step in the direct recycling method involved putting the battery to separate battery components. This was accomplished without breaking down the chemical structure of the active elements. The resulting material, known as a black mass, is perfect for battery recovery, regeneration, and reuse. On the other hand, the shredding process could add metallic contaminants into the recovered electrodes. The impurities that develop are a problem for recyclers, as they slow down the recycling process.

Researchers used a combination of electrochemical analysis and isothermal microcalorimetry. The process enabled them to discover distinct "fingerprints" for each metallic pollutant, such as copper, aluminum, magnesium, silicon, and iron. Researchers can now validate the presence of contaminants. Moreover, they have also gained the ability to measure the influence of each metallic impurity on the overall performance of the recovered electrodes using this synergistic technique.

This novel technique can detect unique signals for each of these impurities. As a result, researchers can discriminate between problematic metals like copper and aluminum. Thereafter, they can design particular techniques to meet purity standards for recycled battery material.

These findings have the potential to improve direct recycling procedures. This can be done by identifying which pollutants are the most problematic in recycled materials and informing strategies for impurity removal through repurification and remediation. At last, this method of examination is valuable outside of a laboratory setting also. It can inform the establishment of industry-wide quality control standards for recycled materials. The information could lead to improved trust in upcycled Li-ion batteries.

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