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A new reality for car battery recycling

United States – The United States Advanced Battery Consortium ‘ a collaborative organisation of Ford Motor Company, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles ‘ has awarded a US$ 2.2 million contract to researchers to establish a new lithium-ion battery recycling process. The initiative also aims to produce new plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) battery cells using the recovered cathode materials.

The 2-year project will be conducted at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). Laboratory studies so far have allowed the researchers to recycle up to 80% of the cathode materials from unsorted batteries using this process, says WPI’s Yan Wang, who leads the innovative endeavour. The process he developed requires virtually no sorting. In the process, the batteries are shredded and the steel, aluminium, iron, copper, and plastics are recovered and recycled. The cathode materials are recovered and then used to synthesize new cathodes.

‘Batteries are among the costliest components of electric and hybrid vehicles,’ Wang observes. The good news is that results strongly suggest this novel recycling process could cut the cost of cathode materials for vehicle batteries ‘by more than 30%’.

‘If we can reduce the cost of lithium-ion batteries through this process, while also recovering and reusing large amounts of materials that are currently being thrown away, we can offer a value-driven path towards improved industry sustainability,’ Wang says.

The competitively bid contract award is 50% funded by the US Department of Energy while the rest will be funded by WPI and a battery manufacturer.

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