The programmed immortality of the lithium-ion battery

01/09/2023 08:55

Research projects, collaborations

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Lithium-ion battery electrodes are made by bonding powders.
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Research teams from INM – Leibniz Institute for New Materials in Saarbrücken, Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research (ISC) in Würzburg and Friedrich Alexander University (FAU) in Erlangen-Nürnberg start the AdRecBat project on 1 February 2023 Recycling of lithium-ion batteries not taken into consideration at the end of their life, but already at the time of product design. The goal of the project is to separate the battery components from each other in such a way that they can be recycled by type. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) finances the project over three years with a total of 1.8 million euros.

The world is currently experiencing a giant boom in lithium-ion battery technology. According to the European mobility association “Transport and Environment”, more than 40 projects for battery factories in Europe have been announced for the next ten years. Regarding the sustainability of electric mobility, research on the efficient recycling of battery materials and their almost complete return to the raw material cycle must be pushed forward as soon as possible. It is not only about the energy-storing components themselves, but also about the electrodes, the encapsulation and the housing. Research teams from INM, ISC and FAU pool their expertise in the BMBF project AdRecBat – additive-based ‘design for recycling’ of lithium-ion batteries. Her approach is to design multi-level lithium-ion batteries in such a way that the materials used can be easily separated and recycled separately at the end of the battery’s life. To this end, the partners are investigating key recycling-relevant points where the materials hold together securely for the life of the batteries, but can be easily separated from each other at the end of their life.

Points relevant for recycling are, for example, the sealing seam of the bag film, the interface between current collector and electrode, and the interface between active material and cathode. If the battery is depleted, separation reactions are triggered specifically by changes in the external magnetic field, temperature or pH, depending on the properties of the trigger materials used. The individual components that are now available can then be fed back into the production cycle. “The trigger additives must be able to be integrated flexibly and, if possible, independently of the battery type, so that different manufacturers of lithium-ion batteries can equip their products with the additives and improve their recyclability,” explains Professor Tobias Kraus, AdRecBat project manager at INM, adding: ” The prerequisite for the success of the process is that the additives remain practically invisible in the battery and in no way impair its functionality.” The aim is to increase efficiency and thus costs. – efficiency of recycling compared to existing pyro- and hydrometallurgical processes, where the discarded batteries are shredded as a whole without intermediate steps.

In addition to the team of Prof. Kraus is the Energy Materials research group of Prof. Volker Presser and INM’s own Innovation Center IZI also involved in the project at INM.

Scientific contact person:
Prof. Dr. Tobias Kraus
Head of the Structural Development program area
Phone: ++49 (0)681 9300 389

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