Farasis Energy says it has developed a “Direct Recycling” process for used lithium-ion batteries which enables direct recovery and reuse of valuable materials – notably the cathode powder – from these batteries and from cell manufacturing scrap. In particular, the process directly recovers the active cathode material powder to retains the high value of the original engineered cathode material – one of the most expensive components in cell production – without the need for re-synthesis. The company says this results in both cost and energy savings, and when applied to cell manufacturing scrap can improve the cathode powder utilization efficiency to over 99%.
Direct Recycling of lithium-ion batteries is a unique recycling process in that it preserves the important crystal structure of the cathode material, the company says. Farasis says it has now been able to successfully demonstrate that recycled cathode material can be recovered from whole used cells or battery manufacturing scrap and then integrated into new cells.
Farasis says it has shown that cells containing up to 25% recycled cathode material can exhibit equivalent performance to cells made from pure virgin cathode material. The Direct Recycling process thus makes it possible to significantly reduce the usage and quantity of new cathode active material without compromising the performance of the newly produced batteries. At the same time, it contributes to a more environmentally friendly and sustainable method of cell manufacturing while reducing the overall CO2 footprint, the company says.
Modern batteries for electric vehicles contain a high proportion of NCM cathode materials, which typically accounts for 40% of the costs; “NCM” refers to the metals nickel, cobalt, and manganese. Most commercial recyclers of lithium-ion batteries focus on either high-temperature smelting or chemical dissolution of the carefully-engineered cathode material, and recovering only the individual metals. These recycling techniques are energy-intensive and impart a significant negative impact to the environment, Farasis says.