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Argonne National Lab inks research deal with industry-led battery recycling coalition

By David Schwartz
Published: November 12th, 2019

A coalition of battery manufacturers, car makers and other industry players with a stake in the battery field has entered into a joint research project with Argonne National Laboratory to advance battery innovation and ensure that the batteries of the future are designed for maximum recyclability.

The Responsible Battery Coalition (RBC) will be working with researchers at Argonne National Laboratory, operated by the University of Chicago for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The RBC-funded partnership is the first industry-sponsored project with the Argonne-led ReCell Center, a lithium-ion battery R&D initiative launched by DOE in early 2019 that also includes the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.  

“By modeling the full life cycle of a battery in advance, a manufacturer has the opportunity to compare and contrast different battery chemistries ‘in the lab,’ which reduces risks and production costs, and allows for the design of batteries that are environmentally responsible, from initial materials selection through end-of-life,” says RBC’s Executive Director Steve Christensen. “Between the globally renowned scientists and top of the line facilities available at Argonne, we are confident that our investment will lead to tangible, real-world solutions benefiting industry and consumers.” 

“As batteries play an ever-larger role in meeting society’s daily energy needs, in applications ranging from electric vehicles to powering homes to industrial-scale energy storage, evaluating and understanding life-cycle impacts is increasingly important,” adds Jeff Spangenberger, director of the ReCell Center and research team leader at Argonne. “Using Argonne’s closed-loop recycling model, known as EverBatt, we will be able to generate critical information to help battery manufacturers design batteries with recycling in mind. Understanding the life cycle of a technology, such as advanced batteries, also supports the development of a circular economy, where all the components of a product are recovered and recycled at end of life.” 

Developing a circular economy approach is especially important for advanced battery technologies, which currently rely on metals that are in limited supply or produced in unstable regions. Over the next 20 years, the projected global spent battery volume from electric vehicles alone will increase to more than seven million metric tons annually, with more than two million metric tons produced in the U.S. alone. 

Without a breakthrough design and improved processes for recycling, RBC predicts the impact of recycling will be severely hampered. “By understanding the full life cycle, batteries can be designed to help meet our energy needs, while also maximizing recyclability, which helps conserve limited resources and ensures good product stewardship,” Spangenberger says.

Based on the research, recycling best practices will be made available to battery manufacturers, original equipment manufacturers and recyclers following a real-world manufacturing process analysis. 

Source: Recycling Today

Posted under: University-Industry Engagement Week

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