Roadmap for a sustainable circular economy in lithium-ion and future battery technologies

Gavin Harper, Paul A Anderson, Emma Kendrick, Wojciech Mrozik, Paul Christensen, Simon Lambert, David Greenwood, Prodip K. Das, Mohamed Ahmeid, Zoran Milojevic, Wenjia Du, Dan J.l. Brett, Paul R. Shearing, Alireza Rastegarpanah, Rustam Solkin, Roberto Sommerville, Anton Zorin, Jessica L. Durham, Andy Abbott, Dana ThompsonNigel Browning, Layla Mehdi, Mounib Bahri, Felipe Schnaider-Tontini, D. Nicholls, Christin Stallmeister, Bernd Friedrich, Marcus Sommerfeld, Laura L. Driscoll, Abbey Jarvis, Emily C. Giles, Peter R Slater, Virginia Echavarri-Bravo, Giovanni Maddalena, Louise Horsfall, Linda Gaines, Qiang Dai, Shiva J. Jethwa, Albert L. Lipson, Gary A. Leeke, Thomas D. Cowell, Joseph Gresle Farthing, Greta Mariani, Amy Smith, Zubera Iqbal, Rabeeh Golmohammadzadeh, Luke Sweeney, Vanessa Goodship, Zheng Li, Jacqueline Sophie Edge, Laura Lander, Viet Nguyen-Tien, Robert J. R. Elliott, Oliver Heidrich, Margaret Slattery, Daniel Reed, Jyoti Ahuja, Aleksandra Cavoski, Robert Lee, Elizabeth Driscoll, Jenny Baker, Peter B. Littlewood, Iain Styles, Sampriti Mahanty, Frank Boons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The market dynamics, and their impact on a future circular economy for lithium-ion batteries (LIB), are presented in this roadmap, with safety as an integral consideration throughout the life cycle. At the point of end-of-life (EOL), there is a range of potential options—remanufacturing, reuse and recycling. Diagnostics play a significant role in evaluating the state-of-health and condition of batteries, and improvements to diagnostic techniques are evaluated. At present, manual disassembly dominates EOL disposal, however, given the volumes of future batteries that are to be anticipated, automated approaches to the dismantling of EOL battery packs will be key. The first stage in recycling after the removal of the cells is the initial cell-breaking or opening step. Approaches to this are reviewed, contrasting shredding and cell disassembly as two alternative approaches. Design for recycling is one approach that could assist in easier disassembly of cells, and new approaches to cell design that could enable the circular economy of LIBs are reviewed. After disassembly, subsequent separation of the black mass is performed before further concentration of components. There are a plethora of alternative approaches for recovering materials; this roadmap sets out the future directions for a range of approaches including pyrometallurgy, hydrometallurgy, short-loop, direct, and the biological recovery of LIB materials. Furthermore, anode, lithium, electrolyte, binder and plastics recovery are considered in order to maximise the proportion of materials recovered, minimise waste and point the way towards zero-waste recycling. The life-cycle implications of a circular economy are discussed considering the overall system of LIB recycling, and also directly investigating the different recycling methods. The legal and regulatory perspectives are also considered. Finally, with a view to the future, approaches for next-generation battery chemistries and recycling are evaluated, identifying gaps for research. This review takes the form of a series of short reviews, with each section written independently by a diverse international authorship of experts on the topic. Collectively, these reviews form a comprehensive picture of the current state of the art in LIB recycling, and how these technologies are expected to develop in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Article number021501
Number of pages96
JournalJournal of Physics: Energy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 20 Feb 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • recycling
  • batteries
  • circular economy
  • lithium-ion
  • legislation
  • sustainability


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