The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory have developed a model which allows industry, the Department and others to gauge the impact of battery recycling in electric vehicles.
Project leader, Jeff Spangenberger said, “Argonne has a long track record of expertise in battery research and development, and now we have added the ability to examine every step along the way, from manufacturing to recycling.”
From cathodes to anodes and electrolytes, Argonne’s understanding of batteries, combined with ReCell, a closed-loop battery recycling model, offers preliminary estimates of total costs as well as environmental impacts such as carbon dioxide emissions. The model breaks down each process from when a battery leaves the factory to when it is recycled.
The model can provide information to manufacturers upfront, so those manufacturers can determine life cycle costs with precision and provide batteries to consumers with minimal environmental and economic impacts. Argonne’s researchers have designed ReCell to be versatile and adapt to the challenges that recycling of lithium-ion batteries present, such as differing battery chemistries and formats.
The model includes three basic recycling technologies:
- Extracting metals with heat (pyrometallurgical)
- Extracting metals with liquids (hydrometallurgical)
- Direct recycling
Preliminary findings estimate that a cell with a recycled cathode could cost 5 percent, 20 percent and 30 percent less than a new cell using pyrometallurgy, hydrometallurgy and direct recycling routes, respectively, according to estimates from Argonne’s Greenhouse gases, Regulated Emissions and Energy use in Transportation (GREET) model recycling parameters. That same cell could consume 10 percent, 20 percent and 30 percent less energy, respectively.
Additionally, the model considers transportation-related cost and environmental factors, which can help steer the development of a recycling infrastructure. Preliminary results from the ReCell model show how a simple change in shipping classification for end-of-life batteries could potentially change a recycled cathode’s cost from 30 percent less than a new cathode to one that only breaks even.
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