WMG launches EV battery recycling facility
The adoption of electric vehicles has created a huge demand for battery metals such as lithium, nickel and cobalt; and this will accelerate each year as electric vehicles replace conventional vehicles. UK-based OEMs pay hundreds to recycle end-of-life lithium-ion batteries that are then exported abroad for material recovery, with the material later repurchased. Recycling of batteries in the UK will provide a stable and sustainable supply of indigenously sourced metals that will be vital for the UK’s automotive needs.
Anwar Sattar, Lead Engineer at WMG, explains: ‘‘The UK has some of the best research organisations in the world, and this facility will now enable us, like our international peers, to take our innovations to the EV market direct.
“We can now carry out kilogramme scale research which will allow us to attain data that is much more valuable to the UK industry, allowing them to make informed decisions about issues such as material handling and separation, scalability, product quality and waste production.’’
Professor David Greenwood, CEO of the WMG Centre HVM Catapult and Director of Industrial Engagement adds: “Batteries are a key enabler to the use of zero carbon energy, and they are a great industrial opportunity for the UK. Making them uses significant quantities of valuable materials, so it is essential that they are safely collected and recycled at the end of their useful life – providing the material feedstock for future generations of batteries. Today’s processes recover as little as 50% of the mass of the battery, and require large quantities of energy and chemicals as inputs. This new facility at WMG will allow us to research new recovery techniques which are more effective, cleaner and cheaper to operate.”
The new recycling facility, funded by the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, is situated within the Advanced Materials Manufacturing Centre. It is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment such as a wet alkaline scrubber which will enable researchers to safely carry out experiments that are not possible elsewhere. It is designed to accommodate pilot scale recycling machinery including dryers, furnaces, separators, and various reactors for the chemical recovery of metals. The facility will also host a scaled-up version of WMG’s novel lithium recovery process which will be able to recover over 90% of the lithium in a battery at very high purities.
Various projects are already underway at the facility including an £8.9m project ‘Recycling of EV Cells from Obsolete Vehicles at Scale’ (RECOVAS). Supported by the Advanced Propulsion Centre, the project will create a circular supply chain for electric vehicle batteries in the UK.
Find out more about WMG’s battery research here: Energy (warwick.ac.uk)