Planning for the Future: Battery Recycling and Life-cycle Analysis
Argonne has a long track record of R&D expertise with lithium-ion batteries, and now has added to its capabilities a powerful computer model that analyzes quantitatively every step within the battery life-cycle, from manufacturing to recycling.
Lithium-ion batteries are complex technologies. Because new designs and materials are springing up at a dizzying pace, planning for future recovery of used battery materials is a serious challenge. Several recycling processes have been proposed or are operating, and each has advantages and disadvantages. A predictive method is sorely needed for analyzing proposed new or improved recycling methods.
The Argonne-developed model called “ReCell” allows battery manufacturers and recyclers to determine the cost and environmental impacts of recycling different battery designs. The model breaks down each process from its manufacture to its being recycled into a new battery. ReCell leverages Argonne’s previously developed Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Transportation (GREET) model and its Battery Performance and Cost (BatPaC) model.
BatPaC captures the interplay between design and cost of lithium-ion batteries for transportation applications. GREET evaluates the material use and process inputs to provide energy and emission impacts at the various stages of a battery’s life.
ReCell is a model that:
- Provides insight into the relative impacts of different recycling paths.
- Accelerates research by guiding it toward processes with minimum economic, energy, and environmental impacts.
- Allows stakeholders to visualize the big life-cycle picture.
Information provided by ReCell will become increasingly important as millions of batteries from vehicles sold over the last decade reach their end of life. By 2025, for example, annual sales of plug-in electric vehicles are projected to exceed 1.2 million vehicles, more than 7 percent of annual vehicle sales.
Argonne is using ReCell and other models to identify the greenest, most economical recycling processes, determine how much of which materials could be recovered with current or improved recycling methods, and quantifying the environmental impacts of both battery production and recycling processes through life-cycle analyses.