Rapid growth in the market for electric vehicles is imperative, to meet global targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, to improve air quality in urban centres and to meet the needs of consumers, with whom electric vehicles are increasingly popular. However, growing numbers of electric vehicles present a serious waste-management challenge for recyclers at end-of-life. Nevertheless, spent batteries may also present an opportunity as manufacturers require access to strategic elements and critical materials for key components in electric-vehicle manufacture: recycled lithium-ion batteries from electric vehicles could provide a valuable secondary source of materials. Here we outline and evaluate the current range of approaches to electric-vehicle lithium-ion battery recycling and re-use, and highlight areas for future progress.
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Many of the ideas suggested for recovery of high-value materials will be trialled by the Faraday Institution’s ReLiB fast-start project funded by the Faraday Institution (grant numbers FIRG005 and FIRG006) and by the ReCell Center, at Argonne National Laboratory, funded by the US Department of Energy. We acknowledge the contribution to the creation of the ReLiB project of N. Rowson (Birmingham Centre for Strategic Elements and Critical Materials). We also thank Q. Dai at Argonne National Laboratories for providing additional data for Fig. 6.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Harper, G., Sommerville, R., Kendrick, E. et al. Recycling lithium-ion batteries from electric vehicles. Nature 575, 75–86 (2019) doi:10.1038/s41586-019-1682-5