Task 10, Electrochemical Systems, Discusses Lithium-ion Battery Recycling with Industry Experts

March 6, 2012 12:15 PM
Recovering and recycling Li-ion batteries are current topics under discussion.

A workshop on Battery Recycling (with an Emphasis on Lithium-ion Batteries) was held by Task 10 in Hoboken, Belgium (near Antwerp) on September 26–27, 2011. The location and time were chosen to allow the workshop to be held in conjunction with two European meetings on related topics—the 16th International Congress for Battery Recycling in Venice and Batteries 2011 in Cannes. The meeting was hosted by Umicore, a corporate group operating in the areas of materials science, chemistry, and metallurgy. 

As the growing fleet of electric-drive vehicles ages, the recycling of batteries will increasingly need to be addressed. Many groups are beginning to think about how the lithium-ion batteries used in hybrid and electric vehicles will be processed at the end of their useful lives. Although researchers are exploring the reuse of batteries in stationary applications after they are no longer suitable for use in vehicles, eventually the batteries will have to be recycled.

In order to allow for effective discussions, attendance at the workshop was limited. Invitations were sent to battery companies, vehicle manufacturers, companies in the recycling industry, and representatives of governments, national laboratories, and universities. More than 35 people participated in the workshop, with attendees from companies and organizations in Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Also, some Asian companies were represented by staff from their European divisions.

The meeting was organized to combine presentations from knowledgeable attendees with open discussions. As with other workshops sponsored by IA-HEV Task 10, the meeting was “off the record,” but almost all of the presentations given at the meeting were distributed to those who attended.

Topics discussed related to various aspects of recycling:

  • Regulations and requirements
  • Perspectives of battery manufacturers
  • Perspectives of vehicle OEMs
  • Perspectives of recycling companies, including a tour of Umicore’s new battery recycling facility

Preliminary conclusions of the workshop included the following:

  • Recycling of advanced vehicle batteries will occur.
  • It is a challenge to plan now for an activity that will not occur for 15 years.
  • Battery developers are not yet designing for recycling.
  • Battery recyclers are only beginning to develop the technology for lithium-ion batteries.
  • Communication among the various parts of the battery recycling industry is just developing.
  • Possible recycling technologies and the maturity level of each are varied.
  • The cost structure for lithium-ion recycling is still developing.

Follow-up discussions are continuing through emails sent among the workshop participants.

Contributed by Mr. James Barnes (U.S.), Task 10 Operating Agent and Ms. Kristin Abkemeier (U.S)., Task 1 Operating Agent , New West Technologies for U.S. DOE