Recycling and Reusing Worn Cathodes to Make New Lithium Ion Batteries

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Nanoengineers during a University of California San Diego have grown an energy-efficient recycling routine that restores used cathodes from spent lithium ion batteries and creates them work only as good as new. The routine involves harvesting a degraded cathode particles from a used battery and afterwards prohibited and feverishness treating them. Researchers built new batteries regulating a renewed cathodes. Charge storage capacity, charging time and battery lifetime were all easy to their strange levels.

This work presents a resolution to an environmental regard per lithium ion batteries: what to do with them when they wear out. Less than 5 percent of used lithium ion batteries are recycled today.

Used cathode particles from spent lithium ion batteries are recycled and renewed to work as good as new. Photos by David Baillot/UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering/Flickr

“Think about a millions of tons of lithium ion battery rubbish in a future, generally with a arise of electric vehicles, and a lassitude of changed resources like lithium and cobalt—mining some-more of these resources will pervert a H2O and soil. If we can sustainably collect and reuse materials from aged batteries, we can potentially forestall such poignant environmental repairs and waste,” pronounced Zheng Chen, a highbrow of nanoengineering during UC San Diego.

Chen, who is dependent with a Sustainable Power and Energy Center during UC San Diego, says this work could also residence mercantile issues associated to battery waste. “The cost of lithium, cobalt and nickel has increasing significantly. Recovering these costly materials could reduce battery costs,” he said.

The new recycling method, published in Green Chemistry, can be used to redeem and revive a lithium ion battery cathode element called lithium cobalt oxide, that is widely used in consumer electronic inclination including smartphones and laptops. The routine also works on NMC, a renouned lithium cathode containing nickel, manganese and cobalt, that is used in many electric vehicles.

The routine involves initial collecting cathode particles from spent lithium ion batteries. Researchers afterwards pressurize a cathode particles in a hot, alkaline, resolution containing lithium salt—this resolution can be recycled and reused to routine some-more batches. Afterwards, a particles go by a brief annealing routine in that they are exhilarated to 800 C and afterwards cooled really slowly.

Researchers done new cathodes from a renewed particles and afterwards tested them in batteries built in a lab. The new cathodes showed a same appetite storage capacity, charging time and lifetime as a originals.

An engaging thing about this process, Chen noted, is that it’s radically a same one that’s used to make a strange cathode particles. “We can simply revive a degraded element by putting it by a same estimate steps,” he said.

As a lithium ion battery wears out, a cathode element loses some of a lithium atoms. The cathode’s atomic structure also changes such that it’s reduction able of relocating ions in and out. The recycling routine that Chen’s organisation grown restores both a cathode’s lithium thoroughness and atomic structure behind to their strange states.

Overall, a recycling routine uses 5.9 megajoules of energy, homogeneous to a appetite in about 3 buliding of a crater of gasoline, to revive one kilogram of cathode material. Several other lithium ion battery cathode recycling processes that are being grown use during slightest twice that energy.

The idea is to optimize this routine for industrial scales. Chen’s group is formulation to work with battery companies in Asia. A sold area of alleviation is a cathode harvesting step, Chen said. Right now, a particles have to be manually picked out from a rest of a battery. Researchers are operative on simplifying this step so that a whole routine is industrially viable.

Chen’s group is enlightening this routine so that it can be used to recycle any form of lithium ion battery cathode material, in further to lithium cobalt oxide and lithium NMC. “The idea is to make this a ubiquitous recycling routine for all cathodes,” Chen said. The group is also operative on a routine to recycle used anodes.

Source: UC San Diego

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