Scientists from the United States have presented a recycling method that increases the performance of lithium-ion batteries. The next stage of the research is working on a method that will allow reusable batteries for electric vehicles.
A new study by the US Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC) and A123 Systems shows that recycled lithium-ion batteries are more efficient than new ones. According to their findings, published in Joule magazine, batteries with recycled cathodes can be as good or even better than batteries that use modern materials.
The research team tested batteries with recycled NMC111 cathodes, the most common type of cathode containing nickel, manganese and cobalt. The cathodes were manufactured using a patented recycling technology by Battery Resourcers.
The recycled material has a more porous structure, which allows lithium ions to pass through better. Therefore, the life of recycled batteries has increased by 53%.
Recycled batteries have been tested in industrial production. The researchers made standard cells charged with materials with the same density as batteries for electric vehicles. The results were no worse than those of modern batteries.
Their technology involves shredding batteries and removing steel cases, aluminum and copper wires, and plastics for subsequent recycling. The remaining mass dissolves, and graphite, carbon and impurities are filtered out or chemically separated. Using a patented chemical technology, nickel, manganese and cobalt are mixed in the right proportions to produce cathode powder.
The next stage of development for researchers is the creation of a battery for electric vehicles. Most large companies recycle for consumer electronics, but recycling for electric vehicles is considered too complex and expensive. USABC researchers want to submit their method by 2023.