A surge of lithium-ion batteries is headed for US recyclers
The use of lithium-ion batteries has surged in recent years, starting with electronics and expanding into many applications, including the growing electric and hybrid vehicle industry. But the technologies to optimize recycling of these batteries has not kept pace.
The launch of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) first lithium-ion battery recycling center, called the ReCell Center, will help the United States grow a globally competitive recycling industry and reduce our reliance on foreign sources of battery materials.
The DOE sees an opportunity to de-risk the recycling of lithium-ion batteries and future battery chemistries to help accelerate the growth of a profitable recycling market for spent EV and electronics batteries. This can be done by developing novel recycling techniques that will make lithium-ion recycling cost-effective by using less energy-intensive processing methods and capturing more metals and other high-value materials in forms that make reuse easier.
Accelerating and advancing industry adoption of EV battery recycling will help meet VTO goals of pushing down the cost of EV battery packs for consumers and increasing the use of domestic recycled sources of battery materials.
These recycled materials can be recycled for use in new batteries, helping to drive down the overall production cost of electric vehicle batteries to the national goal of $80/kWh.
A collaboration of researchers from industry, academia and national laboratories will test new recycling techniques at their home institutions and at Argonne National Laboratory in order to develop new battery designs that will enable greater material recovery at end of life. The most promising new recycling processes and battery designs will be demonstrated at pilot scale at the ReCell Center based at Argonne. Validated processes and designs will be licensed to industry for further commercialization.
The center collaborators also will use existing modeling and analysis tools to help industry determine how to optimize value. Argonne’s EverBatt model evaluates the techno-economic and environmental impacts of each stage of a battery’s life, including recycling. NREL’s supply chain analysis tool provides a birds-eye view of the interconnections between raw material availability, primary manufacture, recycling, and demand.