Lithium-ion batteries are essential for a low-carbon future. But they come with a downside: it takes a lot of energy to produce them, especially with metal mining and refining.
The global lithium battery market is expected to grow tenfold over the next decade, according to a recent report by the U.S. Department of Energy, and will be a component from electric vehicles to energy storage for renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.
On the other hand, while the cathode materials that store electricity in the battery degrade, the materials that make them up do not. They are recyclable.
And while many companies are already in the business of recycling batteries, one says it’s not just about recycling, it’s about “upgrading,” returning the raw materials of discarded lithium-ion batteries directly to the supply chain.
This Massachusetts-based company Ascend Elements has developed a process for capturing battery metals and formulating them into new battery materials, rather than recycling entire components as competitors do. Ascend may sell these materials directly to manufacturers.
Although the process seems easy, it has taken decades to perfect. Ascend reduces spent batteries and manufacturing waste and turns them into black sand, the company says. It then removes all the plastic, aluminum and copper parts and removes the impurities, leaving behind the precious nickel, cobalt and lithium that make up the cathode material of a battery.
“We are effectively doing urban mining by introducing this material and making it a very useful material for battery manufacturers. That’s why we’re compensating for the amount of mining needed,” said Michael O’Kronley, CEO of Ascend Elements. “We are able to reduce this carbon footprint by 90% to 93% by recycling these batteries and producing new cathode material.”
A study in the scientific journal Joule co-formulated the recycling technique with an Ascend scientist that not only did batteries work with the cathode recycling method not only work as well as batteries made from scratch, they lasted longer and recharged faster. .
There are other recycled batteries on the market, but they do not break the components to this valuable cathode material.
“That’s really the core of our intellectual property. That’s what we’re marketing now,” O’Kronley said, adding that he expects to double his workforce by nearly 100 people this year as the company opens its first commercial-scale facility in Georgia. . It has three smaller facilities in Massachusetts and Michigan.
Ascend has raised $ 95 million so far from investors including Jaguar Land Rover’s InMotion Ventures, Hitachi Ventures, Orbia, Doral Energy, as well as At One Ventures, TDK Ventures and Trumpf Ventures. The fundraiser is currently in a new round.
Jaguar Land Rover and Hitachi are in favor of this special battery recycler
Source link Jaguar Land Rover and Hitachi are in favor of this special battery recycler