From lab to everyday life: Princeton accelerator fund supports promising innovations

Thursday, Mar 25, 2021
by Catherine Zandonella, Office of the Dean for Research

A better way to recycle lithium-ion batteries

Bruce Koel, professor of chemical and biological engineering, and Chao Yan, postdoctoral research associate in mechanical and aerospace engineering A new method for recycling lithium-ion batteries could help solve the looming shortage of critical metals, including lithium, cobalt, nickel, and manganese, while reducing waste. The demand for lithium-ion batteries is likely to increase as auto manufacturers boost production of electric and hybrid vehicles. Yet recycling of lithium-ion batteries requires high amounts of energy and produces significant chemical waste. The team invented an acid-free process consisting of steps for recovering the lithium-bearing oxide materials from the batteries, starting by detaching these with water-based solutions, physically separating the positive and negative electrode materials, and further separation of intact and damaged particles. The next step is exposure to low-temperature plasmas, which are charged clouds of gas, to purify the materials, followed by recovery of the particle shape and crystalline structure. This approach for regenerating electrode materials without completely breaking down the chemical compounds offers advantages in cost-savings, energy efficiency and environmental protection.

The full article can be found at here.

Photo of Bruce Koel by David Kelly Crow.