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Li-ion battery recycling problems and solutions

2021-10-14

The similar density values ​​of cathodes and current collectors in lithium-ion batteries make similar methods impossible. Therefore, lithium-ion devices require methods such as redox reactions, solubility, or the use of electrostatic and magnetic properties to separate the materials that make up the battery. The lack of labels is another major obstacle to an effective recycling system. Unlike lead-acid batteries, lithium devices have a variety of chemistries and structures, such as NCA, NMC, LMO, LCO, and LFP batteries, all of which can be combined into different chemistries. The battery can also appear in the form of a bag, prismatic or cylindrical shape, and then welded into the module and assembled into groups.

Lithium Battery Recycling Machine

Lithium Battery Recycling Machine

The arrangement of the batteries and modules in the battery pack is different (sometimes in a single EV manufacturer's fleet), which creates another obstacle for recyclers. The organization of lithium-ion devices comes at the expense of maximum safety and battery life, but at the expense of recyclability. The higher the number of batteries, the lower the proportion of active and valuable materials in the weight of the battery. The increased cell count also complicates the opening and separation steps, which increases the cost of recycling. The Tesla Model S electric vehicle (EV) with an 85 kWh battery pack contains 16 modules, each of which contains 444 battery cells, and there are 7,104 cylindrical battery cells in each car.

Manually disassembling packages and modules to extract individual cells is the preferred method for recovering pure materials, but it takes longer than shredding. The countless combinations of battery and battery pack designs exacerbate this delay, which makes automatic disassembly almost impossible. The researchers said that the battery may also have a sturdy bus bar instead of the current flexible cable that connects the module. With such a structure, it can be seen that the unit is directly connected to the bus bar without a module, and the robot can more easily separate the unit from the bus bar. By adding breakpoints or other opening mechanisms, unit components can be accessed and separated more easily. Researchers say that separating electrode materials without shredding can reduce recycling costs to as much as 70% cheaper than purchasing original materials. Anglo American Group said that comprehensive labels, simplified overall structure, easy-to-open design and reversible adhesives and adhesives will solve most lithium-ion battery recycling problems. Scholars also put forward suggestions on how to formulate such regulations, implying that the expanded scope of manufacturers' responsibilities and the obligation to recycle scrap products will prompt engineers to adopt a "recycling design" approach.

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