Researchers from the US Advanced Battery Consortium and battery company A123 Systems published a report in the journal Joule showing that batteries with recycled cathodes can be as good as or even better than batteries made with new materials. The tested batteries consisted of recycled cathodes which were made by the start-up Battery Resources using a patented recycling technique.
Batteries and other storage technologies will be key in the transition towards increased renewable energy production and the use of electric vehicles. Lithium-ion batteries are one of the most used battery technologies today, and a ramping up of battery production will see an increase in lithium mining. To minimize the extent of mining and reduce the wastes from the growing battery sector, recycling of lithium and other materials used in batteries will be necessary.
Recycled materials are generally believed to not be as good as newly mined materials. As such, the outcomes of this research provide signals of positive changes in the recycling sector. Such advances in recycling will reduce the environmental and social impacts of the renewable and electric mobility transition. Growth in the recycling sector might also allow countries to reduce their dependency on foreign supply chains for necessary minerals. Sharing of knowledge and other forms of collaboration will probably be key if advancements in recycling are to provide benefits to everyone involved.