A team of US scientists are aiming to bring its lithium battery recycling technology to market after developing a way of recovering lithium-ion cathode materials.
The three researchers founded Battery Resourcers in 2015 in a bid to change the dynamics for processing spent lithium-ion batteries.
The company claims to be able to recover more than 70wt% of the battery regardless of the battery’s cathode material, using its technology.
That’s most of the materials, steel casing, current collectors, plastics, and graphite.
However, the main focus is on the cathode materials because “that is where the value is and what makes our process unique,” Eric Gatz, the company’s CEO and co-founder, told BBB:
To date it has one patent to recover LiNiMnCoO2 and another to recover LiNiCoAlO2. Both were filed by Worcester Polytechnic Institute (where the researchers worked) and exclusively licensed by Battery Resourcers.
Gratz told BBB: “We were inspired to launch the company because we believe our recycling process can recover more of the battery’s value than current process and recover ore value.
“Our core technology is the ability to recover cathode materials from a mixture of spent lithium-ion batteries regardless of the battery’s cathode material.”
Gratz said the company’s ten-year goal is to be the dominant recycler of lithium-ion batteries in North America.
These are lofty ambitions as the firm currently only operates at 50kg per day.
Gratz said he predicts they will need to be able to recycle a few tons per day for the process to be profitable, something he believes will take the company at least a couple of years to do.
The company’s other co-founders are Diran Apelian, professor of mechanical engineering at WPI and founder of the Metal Processing Institute on campus and Yan Wang, founding scientist with a research laboratory at WPI.
To date The United States Advanced Battery Consortium LLC, Ford Motor Company and General Motors, have backed the technology with a combined $1 million contract to WPI.
The contract set out goals to scale-up and develop the project to produce plug-in hybrid electric vehicle battery cells made with the recovered cathode material.
Battery Resources has also been awarded a $50,000 grant from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center.