Sustainable Lithium-ion Batteries

Lithium-ion batteries, which have revolutionized energy storage in various sectors, intersect with several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They are directly linked with SDG 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy), as their high energy density, long lifespan, and reusability make them an integral part of renewable energy systems, particularly in storing solar and wind energy. Additionally, their use in electric vehicles supports SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities) and SDG 13 (Climate Action) by reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with transport. However, issues related to the extraction of lithium, including environmental degradation and labor concerns, resonate with SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production) and SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), emphasizing the need for sustainable and ethical supply chains.

Economically viable electric vehicle lithium-ion battery recycling is increasingly needed; however routes to profitability are still unclear. We present a comprehensive, holistic techno-economic model as a framework to directly compare recycling locations and processes, providing a key tool for recycling cost optimization in an international battery recycling economy. We show that recycling can be economically viable, with cost/profit ranging from (−21.43 - +21.91) $·kWh−1 but strongly depends on transport distances, wages, pack design and recycling method.


Sustainable Materials and Technologies, Volume 23, April 2020

Lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) have an established role in the consumer electronics markets with minimum risk of replacement from any other contender in the near future. The recent momentum towards electric vehicles and the renewable energy storage market is creating an increased demand for LIBs. The large amount of hazardous waste generated from the disposal of LIBs is driving research into a sustainable approach for LIB treatment and recovery. The positive electrode active materials being the main targeted component as it is the greatest cost contributor to LIBs production.


Sustainable Materials and Technologies, Volume 17, September 2018

There is a need to develop technology to enable a resource-efficient and economically feasible recycling system for lithium-ion batteries and thus assure the future supply of the component materials. Lithium-ion batteries are complex products, and designs and materials are still evolving, which makes planning for future recovery more challenging. Several processes for recycling are proposed or operating, and each has advantages and disadvantages. This paper compares these processes on technical and economic bases, elucidating differences in benefits as a function of cathode composition.


Sustainable Materials and Technologies, Volume 1, December 01, 2014

This paper looks ahead, beyond the projected large-scale market penetration of vehicles containing advanced batteries, to the time when the spent batteries will be ready for final disposition. It describes a working system for recycling, using lead-acid battery recycling as a model. Recycling of automotive lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries is more complicated and not yet established because few end-of-life batteries will need recycling for another decade. There is thus the opportunity now to obviate some of the technical, economic, and institutional roadblocks that might arise.