RECYCLING LITHIUM-ION BATTERIES: REVIEWING IMPROVEMENTS TO THE PROCESS
Increasing adoption of battery storage, primarily driven by growing electric vehicle use, will increase the demand and production for Lithium-ion Batteries (LIBs). These batteries are inherently reliant on a finite resource pool – specifically for elemental Lithium (Li). There is tremendous effort around understanding how to mitigate uncertainties around the future of the Li supply chain through employing recycling methods like pyrometallurgy and hydrometallurgy after a pre-treatment step or direct recycling to recover or reuse valuable battery material. Though these strategies are broadly cost prohibitive today to a lack of existing battery waste stream, high energy input, high cost, high emissions, and low elemental recovery rates, improving their remaining technical limitations will make them more financially viable and pave the way for a more circular supply chain around LIBs. This review concluded that the most promising research avenues include the optimization of the pre-treatment step, blending of pyrometallurgical and hydrometallurgical strategies, and continuing to investigate electrode regeneration research (among a few others). While these improvements are being realized and the battery waste stream increases in volume, direct recycling methods like reuse for backup power applications should be utilized since they are independent of these existing technical and supply chain limitations. Supportive regulation around standardizing battery design, increasing the battery waste stream, and supporting continued investment in LIB recovery would also benefit the future of the supply chain and pave the way for a secure electrified future.
Lithium Ion Batteries, Energy Storage, Recycling, Renewable Energy, Mining