26/05/2024
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Recycled lithium-ion batteries work better than new ones !

The new method of recycling such batteries can help meet the ever-increasing demand

 Recycled lithium-ion batteries work better than new ones

 Lithium-ion battery modules for electric vehicles sit in the production line at a car manufacturing plant in Dingolfing, Germany.

ย Lithium-ion batteries are at the heart of every electric vehicle, laptop and smartphone, and are essential for collecting renewable energy in the event of a weather emergency.ย  But not all mining operations in the world can extract enough lithium and other important minerals to meet the skyrocketing demand for these batteries.ย  Installing new mines is an expensive, years-long effort.ย  And mining creates a host of environmental headaches โ€” such as the depletion of local water resources and the contamination of debris from the nearby area โ€” that has led to protests against new mines.

 This means that the ability to recycle existing batteries is critical for efficient replacement of the global energy system.  But recycling lithium-ion batteries has recently made commercial entry.  Battery manufacturers are concerned that recycled products may be lower in quality than those made from newly mined minerals, which may lead to lower battery life or damage to the interior of the battery.  The consequences can be serious, especially in an application like an electric vehicle.

 But new research published in Joule describes experts as the most elegant recycling method to upgrade the cathode โ€” the most expensive component of a lithium-ion battery and the carefully crafted crystal that is the key to delivering the right voltage.  Researchers have found that the batteries they produce with their new cathode-recycling technique work with the cathode they made earlier.

 In fact, batteries with a recycled cathode last longer and charge faster.  Many experts say the team’s approach and successful performance is “very unique and very impressive.”

 There is no funny anymore

 Yan Wang, professor of materials science and co-author of a new study at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, began researching battery recycling 11 years ago.  At the time, he says, “Some people were joking with me, ‘You don’t have enough batteries to recycle.'” That joke didn’t age well.

 The Department of Energy estimates the battery market could grow 10 times over the next decade.  To reduce the growing pains of the market, “recycling lithium-ion batteries โ€” getting that material back into the supply chain is critical,” says Dave Howell, director of the DOE’s Office of Automotive Technologies.

 U.S.  DOE has funded new research as part of a massive effort to promote large-scale battery recycling innovations.

 While the lithium-ion battery provides energy, the mass of lithium ions moves from one crystal “cage” (anode) to another (cathode).  The most common methods currently used to recycle these batteries involve dismantling and shredding the entire battery, then dissolving everything or dissolving in acid.  The result is a black mass โ€” with a texture that can vary from powder to goo โ€” thus protecting chemical elements or simple compounds.  Those recovered products can then go through the same commercial production process as newly mined components to make cathodes.

 Cross sections (A) and new material (B) of recycled cathode particles, particles taken from X-ray microscopy.  10 micrometers in the scale bar (A) and 5 micrometers in (B).  Credit: “Recycled cathode materials enable better performance for lithium-ion batteries”

 Wang and his colleagues use a similar process โ€” but instead of completely breaking the battery into its constituent chemical components, their technique retains some critical composition of the old cathode. 

After they shred the battery, they physically remove the lower priced bits (such as electronic circuits and steel battery casing) and recycle them separately.  The rest is mainly cathode material;  They dissolve it in acid and then remove impurities.

 Next, they carefully add a touch of fresh elements that combine the cathode, such as nickel and cobalt, to make sure the ratio of the ingredients is correct – another difference from the usual recycling methods. 

After a few more steps, the result is an efficiently refreshed cathode powder composed of small crystalline particles that can be pasted on a metal bar and used in a “new” battery.

 Since the cathode is created from an accurate mixture of precious minerals to achieve the specific voltage of the battery, slight changes in its structure or composition can compromise its performance.  Thus, experts say that the greater value of cathode powder is “in how you designed [powder] particles in the first place.”

 Emma Kendrick, professor of energy at the University of Birmingham, England, is not new.  Study.  That value is lost if the entire battery is melted or melted at the same time as current recycling methods.

 The more holes, the faster the charge

 Wang and his colleagues compared the particles in their recycled cathode powder to those in commercially manufactured cathode powder (mostly made from newly mined minerals). 

They found that recycled powder particles have more pores, particularly large voids in the middle of each one.  These properties allow the cathode crystal to swell a little when lithium ions are squeezed, and this wiggle room does not crack as easily as the first built cathodes.  Such cracks are a major cause of battery degradation over time.

 Most holes mean more open surface area, where chemical reactions are required to charge the battery โ€” and Wang’s rechargeable batteries charge faster than their commercially-made counterparts. 

Wang says that the future ambition is to design all cathodes to have this superior structure, rather than making them from recycled materials.

 Recent findings “The cathode they can manufacture is as good or better than the commercial material we are importing,” says Linda Gaines, a transportation analyst at Argonne National Laboratory and chief scientist at the Resel Center.  An organization that studies and promotes old battery recycling.  (Gaines is not involved in the new study.) Such imports often come from China, which leads the world in battery recycling.  But this situation means that materials around the world need to be replaced for recycling batteries by increasing their carbon footprint and reducing their attractiveness as a more sustainable way. 

The approach developed by Wangโ€™s team cuts a significant portion of international trade and transport needs, carving out a potential path for other countries to increase domestic battery recycling.  This process is currently being measured by Ascend Elements, formerly Battery Resources, a Wang co-founded recycling company

FAQ

Q. Can lithium ion batteries be recycled?

  Answer.  Yes, lithium-ion batteries are recyclable

  Q) Can 100% recycle lithium batteries?

  The answer is yes.  These batteries are 100% recyclable

  Q) What percentage of lithium battery can be recycled?

Answer. About 5% of lithium-ion batteries are currently recycled,

  Q) What is the most used battery in the world?

Answer.  Lithium batteries are one of the most commonly used battery types in world.

  Q) .What is better than a lithium-ion battery?

  Answer.  Fluoride batteries are eight times more durable than lithium batteries.

What will replace lithium in the future?

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