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Unleashing the Untapped Potential of Battery Lifecycle Management


The United States stands on the brink of revolutionizing advanced lithium-based battery technology capable of propelling electric vehicles and bolstering grid support. The pathway to realizing this grand vision, however, is strewn with daunting supply chain hurdles that must be deftly navigated to establish a flourishing domestic battery sector.


On one recent occasion, over 50 luminaries from the public and private sectors assembled to devise game-changing strategies to cultivate safe, sustainable battery supply lines and recycling infrastructures within the U.S. Orchestrated by the dynamic alliance, Li-Bridge, the conference was steered by Argonne National Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), in harmony with three prominent industry consortiums—NAATBatt International, New York Battery and Energy Storage Technology Consortium, and New Energy Nexus.


During this invigorating dialogue, the group mapped out the most influential policies and actions to guarantee a steadfast supply of battery materials to U.S. manufacturers. These actionable strategies have been meticulously detailed in a recent report launched by Li-Bridge.


“Envisaging the impending future, the minerals from expended lithium-ion batteries will emerge as a pivotal strategic resource,” asserted Michael Berube, deputy assistant secretary for sustainable transportation and fuels at DOE. “Initiating a collaborative approach right now will ensure that our burgeoning domestic battery recycling industry is primed to collect, transport, process, and recycle these batteries to satisfy our needs.”


The report flagged a noteworthy hurdle: lithium battery recycling is economically unviable as the costs of collection, transportation, and processing outweigh the essential value inherent in the materials. The report advocates a surge in R&D investment to unearth cost-effective methods to salvage low-value materials and parts, as a means to bolster recycling economics.


The focus of the report extended towards innovative strategies to streamline and cut expenses related to battery collection, storage, transport, and dismantling. Despite the ubiquitous nature of spent batteries from mobile phones, laptops, and other consumer electronics, collection remains sporadic. Enhanced financial incentives have been proposed to persuade consumers to deposit their devices at collection centers.


Many spent batteries and decommissioned electric vehicles are dispatched overseas. The report proposes export restrictions as a potential tool to mitigate this offshore outflow or “leakage.”


In the wake of the forum’s triumph, Li-Bridge envisages hosting more such collaborative endeavors. Key topics of discussion may include the transparency and traceability of battery material flow along supply chains and at the end of their lifecycle.

Li-Bridge's funding comes from DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Vehicle Technologies Office.

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