Presented by Linda Gaines, Argonne National Laboratory
Recycling is not an objective in itself, but for the benefits it can bring, including reductions in life-cycle costs, energy use and environmental impacts, and dependence on scarce or imported materials. Because the options available now for recycling of lithium-ion batteries are not optimal, the U.S. Department of Energy created the ReCell Center (and is offering a Recycling Prize) to develop an economical recycling process by the time large volumes of batteries from electric vehicles and other uses reach end of life. The work will be performed at lead-lab Argonne National Laboratory, its partner labs Oak Ridge and NREL, and several universities.
Even batteries that find second use will eventually need to be recycled. However, by then the material could be a 20 year-old formulation with little residual value from its structure or contained elements. In particular, cathodes are evolving towards formulations containing reduced quantities of cobalt (the valuable element sought in most current recycling operations), reducing the incentive for recycling with standard pyrometallurgical or hydrometallurgical methods.
The key R&D questions focus on recovering usable cathode, which is the most valuable form of recoverable material. How can the cathode get separated from the other cell components and restored to full functionality? Can we separate one cathode type from another? Can we modify the cathode composition or morphology to update it for reuse? Can other materials be recovered as well? This presentation will describe research projects in the ReCell Center that address these questions.
This is a public webinar.