Battery recycler Ace Green Recycling has teamed up with the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to develop lithium-iron phosphate (LFP) and other recycling technology.
The Singapore/US-based company said the research and development agreement seeks to develop and optimise Ace Green’s technology for recycling graphite, LFP and other cathode active materials in the US.
NREL will provide capabilities in cell production, modelling, analysis and other advanced tools to demonstrate Ace Green technology. The main work will be at NREL’s facility in Colorado.
Ace Green said the project “aims to identify optimal recycling parameters for LFP and graphite that will maximise performance and lifetime requirements of batteries made from recycled materials”.
It will compare batteries made from recycled materials using Ace’s technology with ones made from virgin materials.
The US imports more than 60,000 tonnes of graphite electrodes, it said. The potential upcycling of graphite could give the US a technological edge and lessen dependence on imports, Ace Green added.
The volume of electric vehicles fitted with LFP batteries is expected to grow significantly and major motor manufacturers like Tesla and Ford are starting to switch to LFP from nickel- and cobalt-based batteries due to lower cost, it said.
However, LFP battery recycling is seen by the industry as a particularly challenging problem due to the difficulty in extracting lithium and graphite profitably.
Andrew Colclasure of NREL said: “Current hydrometallurgical recycling methods focus on extracting high-value materials from LFP batteries, such as lithium and copper. To encourage a more holistic approach to recycling, we must demonstrate efficient processes that also recycle low-value materials such as graphite and iron-phosphate into commercially viable products.”