STTR Phase I: A Closed Loop Process for the recycle of End-of-Life Li-ion Batteries

Period of Performance: 01/01/2016 - 12/31/2016

$225K

Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

Battery Resourcers LLC
94 Francis Ave Array
Shrewsbury, MA 01545
Firm POC, Principal Investigator

Research Institution

Worcester Polytechnic Institute
100 Institute Rd
Worcester, MA 01609
Institution POC

Abstract

The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Technology Transfer Phase I project is to improve the recycling rates and efficiency of lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries, as well as lower the cost of cathode materials for Li-ion batteries. This research project will accomplish these goals by recovering cathode material from a broad spectrum of Li-ion battery regardless of size, shape or chemistry. By lowering the cost of cathode materials, this project has the potential to make green technologies more viable by making energy storage more affordable. This project will seek to develop a novel method of recovering active cathode materials from spent Li-ion batteries that does not require any sorting. The recovery of active cathode materials from spent Li-ion batteries is a key advancement for Li-ion battery recycling because the cathode material is the most expensive part of the battery. This advancement is critical because traditional recycling processes only recover individual metals from the batteries. Recovering the cathode material also requires less energy than synthesizing virgin cathode materials. This project seeks to be able to offer low cost cathode materials while reducing the carbon footprint of the battery industry. The technical objectives of this Phase 1 research project are to improve the electrochemical performance of the recovered cathode materials by developing methods to control the particle morphology and increase the particle density. These improvements will increase the capacity and cycle life of the cathode materials. The conditions that control impurity removal will be closely monitored to facilitate producing cathode materials from spent Li-ion batteries with impurity levels similar to virgin materials. The process recovery efficiency will also be optimized. The process will be scaled from 1kg to 50kg which will provide enough material for Battery Resourcers LLC to have its material independently tested. In addition to recovering active cathode materials from spent lithium ion batteries, steel, copper, aluminium and plastics will also be recovered.