Ascend Components is sharing new particulars of its progressive Hydro-to-Cathode™ course of know-how, which helps clarify how the corporate can rework vital components from recycled lithium-ion batteries into new cathode supplies that rival or exceed the efficiency of cathode supplies made with virgin metals. The corporate is bringing superior supplies engineering to the recycling trade. By engineering the composition and microstructure of lithium-ion cathode particles through the direct precursor synthesis part of its Hydro-to-Cathode course of, Ascend Components can ship custom-made battery supplies to express buyer specs.
“Relying on the supposed utility, battery producers require cathode energetic supplies with completely different nickel, cobalt and manganese concentrations. They could want battery materials with a particular particle measurement, crystallinity, or porosity to satisfy their necessities,” stated Eric Gratz, Ph.D., Co-founder and CTO of Ascend Components. “These changes within the elemental composition of the cathode materials could make an enormous distinction within the power density, security, energy, cycle life and general efficiency of batteries.”
The battery chemistry and elemental composition of a lithium-ion battery is basically outlined by the cathode energetic materials used within the battery. A lightweight-duty passenger EV battery optimized for weight and vary would require a unique cathode materials than a business car Li-ion battery designed for energy and sturdiness. Equally, cathode materials for use in an influence drill won’t meet the identical specs as battery materials meant for a laptop computer. The number of battery chemistries is as diverse as the various battery functions on the market, from huge utility grid power storage techniques (ESS) to handheld good telephones.
“Relating to recycling used lithium-ion batteries and reworking these vital components into new cathode materials, it doesn’t matter what kind of lithium-ion battery is recycled. The battery chemistry in the beginning of the method has no impression on the kind of new cathode materials we will make from it. If the feedstock is a lithium-ion battery, we will rework it into the most recent kind of cathode,” Gratz stated.
In different phrases, Ascend Components can recycle a 10-year-old battery from a first-generation EV, break it right down to an aqueous resolution containing lithium, nickel and cobalt atoms, after which rearrange these atoms into the latest kind of cathode energetic supplies – from NMC 811 to NMCA or every other Li-ion battery chemistry.
The incoming feedstock may even be a mix of various lithium-ion battery sorts and elemental compositions — used batteries from outdated EVs, laptops, cell telephones, scooters, and energy instruments. Even Gigafactory scrap and waste could be combined in. There’s no must type batteries into completely different classes earlier than recycling. “Our know-how can customise and engineer cathode energetic materials in some ways – from composition, particle measurement and distribution to crystallinity, morphology, and porosity – all tailor-made to particular buyer necessities,” Gratz stated.
In late 2021, the method was proven to reinforce efficiency of batteries made with recycled supplies. A peer-reviewed examine revealed within the scholarly journal Joule discovered battery cells made with Ascend Components’ engineered cathode materials had between 30% and 50% longer cycle life than historically made battery cells. The examine additionally discovered an 88% greater energy functionality in comparison with conventional lithium-ion battery cells.
These efficiency enhancements are attributed to the microstructure of the engineered cathode particles. Modified porosity of cathode particles improves lithium diffusivity, which implies lithium ions can journey by way of the cathode materials extra simply for greater energy capabilities. The modified pore construction additionally offers pressure aid, permitting growth and contraction throughout charging and discharging with out damaging the particles within the cathode “Our course of is able to different engineered traits past simply porosity, together with particle measurement, form, and distribution,” Gratz stated.
Past these materials engineering capabilities, the Hydro-to-Cathode™ course of can be rather more environment friendly and environmentally pleasant than conventional cathode manufacturing processes. The method recovers 98% of the vital battery metals in spent lithium-ion batteries and manufacturing scrap and produces new cathode materials at half the associated fee and 90% decrease greenhouse gasoline emissions in comparison with comparable cathode made with newly mined and refined metals. “Microstructure engineering allows us to make sustainable battery supplies that work as effectively new,” Gratz stated. “There’s no must compromise on efficiency or worth for sustainability.”