Development of Efficient and Scalable Direct Recycling Technology for Lithium-Ion Batteries

The Regents of the University of California, San Diego

Recipient

La Jolla, CA

Recipient Location

39th

Senate District

78th

Assembly District

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Active

Project Status

Project Update

The Issue

(LIBs) will play a central role in transitioning California's electricity and transportation sectors to becoming zero emission over the coming decades. The combined retirements of grid-connected stationary storage and plug-in electric vehicle (PEV)

Project Innovation

The recipient has developed efficient and scalable direct recycling for lithium-ion batteries (LIB)that is flexible across different cathode chemistries and applicable to stationary storage systems and PEV batteries at end of life. The project will demonstrate advancements towards an economical and high-value LIB via efficient sorting and separation of spent batteries, safe and low-cost direct regeneration methods, high-purity and high-quality returned materials with the equivalent performance to virgin materials, high profit and low carbon footprint, and increased profitability and scalability, leading to viable pathways for rapid scale-up and successful commercialization.

Project Benefits

The project team has built unique strengths in this development from previous research projects funded by CEC and federal agencies. With the support of the EPIC program, the team will further improve the efficiency of unit operations, leading to future commercialization efforts to establish direct recycling capacity in California. The team hopes to overcome barriers and achieve CA's statutory energy goals by:

Lower Costs

Affordability

As the materials cost represents 50-70% of the total battery cost in ESS and PEVs, successful recycling and regeneration of spent LIB using low-cost processes will have the potential to significantly reduce overall battery costs. The project aims to achieve an operational cost of <$5/kg for Nickel Cobalt Manganese (NMC) and Nickel Cobalt Aluminum (NCA) cathodes and <$2/kg for Lithium Manganese Oxide (LMO), Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP), and graphite anode.

Increase Safety

Safety

The goals of the Project are to develop and scale up advanced direct regeneration technologies to recycle and reuse spent LIBs for the benefit of both recapturing valuable materials and mitigating environmental pollution. Unlike today’s industry recycling methods (pyrometallurgical and hydrometallurgical processes), UCSD will focus heavily on: 1) addressing safety and environmental issues related to handling and treating spent batteries and their materials inside; and 2) achieving reasonable economic return by recovering high-value materials at high efficiency and low cost.

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