Recognizing the significant energy, environmental and economic benefits of battery recycling, the Responsible Battery Coalition (RBC) has entered into a joint research project with Argonne National Laboratory to further advance battery innovation and ensure that the batteries of tomorrow are designed for maximum recyclability.
Argonne National Laboratory, operated by the University of Chicago for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), is a world-class multidisciplinary science and engineering research center focused on solving domestic energy and environmental challenges through innovative science and technology solutions. RBC, a leader in innovation and collaboration in responsible battery management, is a coalition of battery manufacturers and recyclers, car and vehicle makers, fleet owners, service providers and aftermarket retailers with a common interest in the responsible management of batteries.
The RBC-funded partnership is the first industry-sponsored project with the Argonne-led ReCell Center, a lithium-ion battery research and development initiative launched by DOE in early 2019 that also includes the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
“By modeling the full lifecycle of a battery in advance, a manufacturer has the opportunity to compare and contrast different battery chemistries ‘in the lab,’ which reduces risks and production costs, and allows for the design of batteries that are environmentally responsible, from initial materials selection through end-of-life,” said RBC Executive Director Steve Christensen. “Between the globally renowned scientists and top of the line facilities available at Argonne, we are confident that our investment will lead to tangible, real-world solutions benefiting industry and consumers.”
“As batteries play an ever-larger role in meeting society’s daily energy needs, in applications ranging from electric vehicles to powering homes to industrial-scale energy storage, evaluating and understanding lifecycle impacts is increasingly important,” said Jeff Spangenberger, director of the ReCell Center, who leads the research team at Argonne.
“Using Argonne’s closed-loop recycling model, known as EverBatt, we will be able to generate critical information to help battery manufacturers design batteries with recycling in mind,” Spangenberger said. “Understanding the lifecycle of a technology, such as advanced batteries, also supports the development of a circular economy, where all the components of a product are recovered and recycled at end of life.”
Developing a circular economy approach is especially important for advanced battery technologies, which currently rely on metals that are in limited supply or produced in unstable regions. Over the next 20 years, the projected global spent battery volume from electric vehicles alone will increase to more than seven million metric tons annually, with more than two million metric tons produced in the United States alone.
Absent a breakthrough design and improved processes for recycling, we will continue to see limited recovery of valuable battery materials through recycling.
“By understanding the full lifecycle, batteries can be designed to help meet our energy needs, while also maximizing recyclability, which helps conserve limited resources and ensures good product stewardship,” Spangenberger said.
The RBC-Argonne project is expected to be completed by the end of 2019. RBC will work closely with Argonne to provide real-world manufacturing process input and help fill in any data gaps that may exist. Recycling best practices will be made available to battery manufacturers, original equipment manufacturers, and recyclers following a real-world manufacturing process analysis.
RBC and its members are committed to the responsible reuse, recycling and management of energy storage or batteries used in the transportation, industrial or stationary sectors, inspiring the next generation of energy storage technologies.
RBC members include:
- Advance Auto Parts
- Club Car
- Lafarge Holcim
- O’Reilly Auto Parts
- Renova Energy