Used mobile phone batteries

DOE Targets Recycling of Lithium-Ion Batteries

  February 21, 2019

By Naomi Millán

Lithium-ion batteries power many popular electronic devices, from phones to automobiles. In the built environment, they can be found in uninterruptible power supplies and larger onsite power storage systems. But lithium-ion battery recycling has not really caught on in the United States — a problem that drains limited resources for the raw materials that go into the batteries and leaves domestic battery manufacturers dependent on foreign supplies. A new initiative from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) hopes to address that problem.

The DOE has opened a lithium ion battery recycling research and development center at Argonne National Laboratory. The ReCell Center will collaborate with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and universities such as Worcester Polytechnic Institute, University of California at San Diego and Michigan Technological University.

These institutions and other collaborators will develop ways to recycle the materials from existing lithium-ion batteries back into new lithium-ion batteries, and improved battery designs that facilitate recycling. The goal of the initiative is to improve recycling rates, improve national security by safeguarding a source of battery ingredients, such as lithium and cobalt, and comply with Executive Order 13817, according to the DOE.

Naomi Millán, is senior editor of Building Operating Management. 


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