Environmentally Friendly Method Could Lower Costs to Recycle Lithium-Ion Batteries
The process, developed by nanoengineers at the University of California San Diego, is more environmentally friendly than today’s methods; it uses greener ingredients, consumes 80 to 90% less energy, and emits about 75% less greenhouse gases.
Researchers detail their work in a paper published Nov 12 in Joule.
The process works particularly well on cathodes made from lithium iron phosphate, or LFP. Batteries made with LFP cathodes are less costly than other lithium-ion batteries because they don’t use expensive metals like cobalt or nickel. LFP batteries also have longer lifetimes and are safer. They are widely used in power tools, electric buses and energy grids. They are also the battery of choice for Tesla’s Model 3.
“Given these advantages, LFP batteries will have a competitive edge over other lithium-ion batteries in the market,” said Zheng Chen, a professor of nanoengineering at UC San Diego.
The problem? “It’s not cost-effective to recycle them,” Chen said. “It’s the same dilemma with plastics—the materials are cheap, but the methods to recover them are not.”
The new recycling process that Chen and his team developed could lower these costs. It does the job at low temperatures (60 to 80 C) and ambient pressure, making it less power hungry than other methods. Also, the chemicals it uses—lithium salt, nitrogen, water and citric acid—are inexpensive and benign.
“The whole regeneration process works at very safe conditions, so we don’t need any special safety precautions or special equipment. That’s why we can make this so low cost for recycling batteries,” said first author Panpan Xu, a postdoctoral researcher in Chen’s lab.
The researchers first cycled commercial LFP cells until they had lost half their energy storage capacity. They took the cells apart, collected the cathode powders, and soaked them in a solution containing lithium salt and citric acid. Then they washed the solution with water, dried the powders and heated them.
The researchers made new cathodes from the powders and tested them in both coin cells and pouch cells. Their electrochemical performance, chemical makeup and structure were all fully restored to their original states.
As the battery cycles, the cathode undergoes two main structural changes that are responsible for its decline in performance. The first is the loss of lithium ions, which creates empty sites called vacancies in the cathode structure. The other occurs when iron and lithium ions switch spots in the crystal structure. When this happens, they cannot easily switch back, so lithium ions become trapped and can no longer cycle through the battery.
The process restores the cathode’s structure by replenishing lithium ions and making it easy for iron and lithium ions to switch back to their original spots. The latter is accomplished using citric acid, which acts as a reducing agent—a substance that donates an electron to another substance. Citric acid transfers electrons to the iron ions, making them less positively charged. This minimizes the electronic repulsion forces that prevent the iron ions from moving back into their original spots in the crystal structure, and also releases the lithium ions back into circulation.
While the overall energy costs of this recycling process are lower, researchers say further studies are needed on the logistics of collecting, transporting and handling large quantities of batteries.
“Figuring out how to optimize these logistics is the next challenge,” Chen said. “And that will bring this recycling process closer to industry adoption.”
The Latest Updates from Bing News & Google News
Go deeper with Bing News on:
Recycling lithium-ion batteries
- Recycling vital to meet sky high battery demandon January 14, 2021 at 1:48 am
It’s clear to see that the demand for electric car battery materials cannot be met without recycling,’ says Jeffrey Spangenberger of Argonne National ...
- The EU Drive toward a Sustainable Battery Framework and Seeing Around the Corner in the USon January 11, 2021 at 3:22 pm
The European Commission (EC)–the executive branch of the European Union (EU)–recently proposed a comprehensive regulatory framework for batteries (the proposal). The finalized proposal wou ...
- Recycling startup Redwood Materials is now accepting your old smartphoneson January 11, 2021 at 7:35 am
Redwood Materials, the recycling startup founded by former Tesla CTO JB Straubel, has quietly opened up its enterprise to everyday consumers and all of the old electronics sitting in their junk ...
- Li-Cycle and New Flyer Team Up to Complete Heavy-Duty Battery Recycling Piloton January 11, 2021 at 4:52 am
New Flyer provided Li-Cycle with 45 end-of-life lithium-ion battery modules (used for research and development) totaling 3,200 pounds; these batteries will be processed at Li-Cycle's Spoke facility ...
- DOE Announces Winners Of Phase II Battery Recycling Prizeon January 10, 2021 at 3:59 pm
Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) announced the seven winners of Phase II of the Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling P ...
Go deeper with Google Headlines on:
Recycling lithium-ion batteries
Go deeper with Bing News on:
- Enphase Energy and Solar Optimum Expand Partnership to Include Battery Storageon January 15, 2021 at 12:53 am
Solar Optimum will begin its deployment of Enphase Storage with homeowners across Southern California. The expansion of the partnership between the two companies will include closer collaboration on ...
- Energy Storage Systems Continue to Expand in North American Maritime Marketson January 14, 2021 at 10:15 am
North America is increasingly adopting energy storage systems (ESS) to use in combination with combustion engines or as the ...
- Enphase Energy, Sunnova Ink Deal to Supply Encharge Systemson January 12, 2021 at 7:20 am
Enphase Energy, Inc. ENPH recently entered into a new agreement with its long-time partner, Sunnova Energy International NOVA for supplying its Encharge storage systems. This deal will enable ...
- Battery metals demand expected to rise in 2021on January 12, 2021 at 6:14 am
Financial risk management, solutions and insights company Fitch Solutions Country Risk and Industry Research (Fitch Solutions) expects the demand for key battery metals to rise in the coming year as ...
- Lithium-ion Battery Cathode Market Size Worth $12.77 Billion By 2027 | CAGR: 12.4% | Polaris Market Researchon January 11, 2021 at 4:30 am
PRNewswire/ -- The global lithium-ion battery cathode market size is expected to reach USD 12.77 billion by 2027 according to a new study conducted by ...