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Li-Bridge report bridges the need for end-of-life lithium-ion recycling

Vaseline 3 months ago

TThe United States has a generational opportunity to build next-generation lithium batteries to power electric vehicles and support the electric grid. However, the US must address significant supply chain challenges to create a thriving domestic battery industry.

At a recent forum, more than 50 government and industry leaders brainstormed creative solutions to grow safe, sustainable battery supply chains and recycling infrastructure in the US. The event was organized by Li-Bridge, a public-private alliance committed to advancing domestic battery supply chains. The forum was managed by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, in coordination with three industry associations: NAATBatt International, New York Battery and Energy Storage Technology Consortium, and New Energy Nexus.

The group agreed on the most impactful policies and actions to ensure a reliable supply of battery materials for U.S. manufacturers. These recommendations are detailed in a recent Li-Bridge report.

“The minerals from end-of-life lithium-ion batteries will be an important strategic resource in the future,” said Michael Berube, deputy assistant secretary for sustainable transportation and fuels at DOE. “By taking coordinated action now, we can ensure that the domestic battery recycling industry is well positioned to collect, transport, process and recycle these batteries to meet our needs.”

Among the key challenges identified in the report: The economics of recycling lithium batteries are poor because the collection, transportation and processing costs for recycling materials are high relative to the intrinsic value of the materials. To improve the economy, one of the report’s recommendations is to boost R&D investment in low-cost ways to recover low-value materials and components.

The report also discusses numerous ways to make battery collection, storage, transport and disassembly more effective and cheaper. For example, there is a limited collection of used batteries from mobile phones, laptops and other consumer electronics. The report recommends better economic incentives to encourage consumers to take their devices to collection points.

Many batteries and used electric vehicles are shipped to other countries. The report suggests the use of export controls as a possible tool to control this offshore ‘leakage’.

Building on the forum’s success, Li-Bridge plans to host additional events. A potential topic is the visibility and traceability of battery material flows through supply chains and at end-of-life.

Li-Bridge is funded by DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Vehicle Technologies Office.

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