Lithium ion Batteries: Opportunities and Challenges

The Future is Electric.

The growth and popularity of electric vehicles (EV) is putting a spotlight on Lithium-ion batteries. According to Bloomberg 2019 Electric Vehicle Outlook, EVs, including commercial and passenger, will dominate the demand of the Lithium-ion battery market in the next ten years. Lithium-ion batteries provide lightweight, efficient power for EVs and consumer electronics. Compared to nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries, lithium-ion batteries have a 50 percent greater capacity in watt-hours per kilogram (w-h/kg).

Market Challenges for Lithium-ion Batteries

A challenge with this growing market is the limited access to mineral resources key for manufacturing lithium-ion batteries. The key minerals making up the cathode material, including Lithium (Li), Manganese (Mn), Nickel (Ni), and Cobalt (Co), is in short supply. The situation is exacerbated due to the environmental impact in mining and refining these minerals, and the need to dispose the battery waste stockpile. Thus, developing recycling capabilities of used lithium-ion batteries becomes more critical.

Lithium ion batteries

The market has responded to these needs, and many are capturing the opportunities. More and more recycling companies are popping up around North America. Late last year, a Canadian firm began constructing a US $175 million plant in Rochester, N.Y. When completed, it will be the largest lithium-ion battery-recycling plant in North America. The plant will have an eventual capacity of 25 metric kilotons of input material, recovering 95 percent or more of the cobalt, nickel, lithium, and other valuable elements.1

EAG Scientists Lead in Lithium-ion Battery Recycling

EAG scientists are leaders in lithium-ion battery recycling arena. We have developed the knowhow to measure accurately and reliably with long-term consistency. EAG scientists combine the representative sampling and validated elemental analysis techniques for accurate determination of Li/Transition Metal ratios (stoichiometry, off-stoichiometry), dopant concentration, and high sensitivity quantitation of key trace impurities. 

These analysis techniques include NIST High Performance Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectroscopy (HP ICP-OES), Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) and Glow Discharge Mass Spectrometry (GDMS). These are key for manufacturing Lithium-ion batteries with consistent quality, high performance, and long cycle life. EAG scientists also developed the knowhow for representative sampling and quantitative determination of transition metal contents in recycled e-waste, and purity certification of recycled Copper (Cu) foil, Aluminum (Al) foil and graphite materials. The EAG team utilizes multiple techniques such as Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM)/Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (EDS) and Electron Energy Loss Spectroscopy (EELS) to characterize different impurities found within a lithium-ion battery.

EAG is a valuable resource and partner in understanding the impurities found within recycled lithium-ion battery materials. At EAG we have a deeper understanding of how the impurities release from the materials and have a stellar sampling method. The battery industry is about how accurately you measure the field stock materials – it’s about production control. No one understands this better than the scientists at EAG. We would love to work with you to discover your challenges related to recycling lithium-ion batteries. Please contact us today to learn how we can help.

Quoted Sources

1Kumagai, J. (2021, January 5). Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Finally Takes Off in North America. Retrieved from spectrum.ieee.org/: https://spectrum.ieee.org/lithiumion-battery-recycling-finally-takes-off-in-north-america-and-europe

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