Companies Trying to Solve Battery Recycling Issue

Companies Trying to Solve Battery Recycling Issue

Back in 2009, “TV Zombies” from the Electronics TakeBack Coalition invaded the Consumer Electronics Show  – the point being that consumer electronics (and batteries, especially) “live on” in landfills.

11 years later, the electronics recycling challenge still plagues the industry, but Wired recently profiled a handful of companies trying to solve it.

The first, Redwood Materials, was founded by the former CTO of Tesla, J. B. Straubel, who saw first-hand the mass proliferation of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles.

“The major opportunity is to think of this material for reuse and recovery,” he says. “With all these batteries in circulation, it just seems super obvious that eventually we're going to build a remanufacturing ecosystem.”

Redwood’s recycling method uses pyrometallurgy and hydrometallurgy to supposedly recover between 95 and 98 percent of a battery’s nickel, cobalt, copper, aluminum, and graphite, and more than 80 percent of its lithium.

A different company, Li-Cycle, uses a process called “leaching” to “recover critical materials from lithium-ion batteries and reintroduce them back into the supply chain,” according to their site.

Wired describes “leaching” as soaking lithium-ion cells in strong acids to dissolve the metals into a solution.

After a vat discharges and shreds the batteries, the usable materials like nickel, cobalt, and lithium (amongst others) are recovered – and according to Tim Johnston, the cofounder of Li-Cycle, the process involves no meaningful waste.

“We don't produce any meaningful amount of air emissions, we don't produce any waste water, and everything is done at a low temperature. The footprint is very small,” he said.

Be sure to read the full Wired piece here.