Recycled materials from used lithium-ion batteries can outperform new commercial materials, making the recycled materials a potentially green and profitable resource for battery producers, according to research led by Yan Wang, professor in the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering.
The study was published Oct. 14 in Joule, a top journal in energy research.
The researchers used physical tests, imaging, and computer simulations to compare new cathode materials to cathode materials recovered from old electric vehicle batteries through a recycling process that is being commercialized by Battery Resourcers Inc. of Worcester. (Wang is chief scientist and a co-founder of Battery Resourcers, and his previous research into recycling technologies led to multiple patents that WPI has licensed to Battery Resourcers.)
“As demand grows for lithium-ion batteries, it will be important to recycle materials from used batteries, especially batteries from electric vehicles,” Wang said. “Battery manufacturers want to know that recycled cathode materials are not inferior to new cathode materials. This research shows that recycled materials can electrochemically match or outperform pristine, state-of-the-art cathode materials from tier 1 suppliers.”
Wang collaborated on the paper with researchers from A123 Systems, Battery Resourcers, Argonne National Laboratory, Rice University, Brookhaven National Laboratory, and the United States Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC).
Wang’s work is supported by USABC.