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US Department of energy report: lithium ion batteries create a circular economy!


Researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) of the U.S. Department of energy released a report detailing the technical, market and regulatory barriers to creating a circular economy for lithium-ion batteries.

The demand for battery technology in energy storage and electric vehicles (EV) is growing. However, its current life cycle is almost one-way, from manufacturing to consumption to disposal, with little consideration of reuse or recycling. Analysts say there is only one lithium-ion battery recycling facility in the United States.

In order to start rethinking the one-way life cycle, the NREL team evaluated the reuse and recycling status of large-scale lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles and battery energy storage. They found that battery reuse and recycling can create market opportunities in the United States, stabilize the supply chain, reduce the impact on the environment, and alleviate resource constraints.

They also found that the circular economy will gain more value from the battery energy storage system. Materials will be reused, recycled or refurbished to meet the needs of multiple life cycles.

Researchers say technology, infrastructure and processes are current obstacles. For example, the design and composition of lithium-ion batteries vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, so it is difficult to design a standard process to reuse or recycle materials in a cost-effective manner.

In addition, there is no reliable public information about the status or quantity of retired lithium-ion batteries, or the cost of reconditioning them for other purposes. Analysts recommend government funded research, development, analysis and incentives, as well as information exchange, to increase knowledge and promote private investment.

Based on their findings, NREL analysts highlighted existing regulations that may affect the installation of recycled lithium-ion batteries and grid interconnection. Taylor Curtis, the project leader and NREL analyst, said that some states, such as California or New York, are revising their regulations to ensure that the requirements for connection to the grid are particularly applicable to battery energy storage systems.


Curtis pointed out, "considering that the formulation of interconnection regulations does not take these types of systems into account, this is a great development."

Another challenge is that it is not clear how to legally define the waste of retired lithium-ion batteries. As recently as July, U.S. federal policy did not directly involve the decommissioning of battery energy storage systems, nor did it force or encourage the reuse or recycling of lithium-ion batteries.

Generally speaking, retired lithium-ion batteries are usually considered as hazardous waste or general waste, and both kinds of waste have their own regulations. Regulations vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and non-compliance may result in fines.

In some states, penalties for violations of hazardous waste laws or regulations are stricter than federal penalties. For example, intentional or negligent violation of a provision of California hazardous waste laws or regulations may result in a fine of up to $70000 per day for each violation.

According to the report, the US Environmental Protection Agency has developed alternative regulatory measures for recycling lead-acid batteries and other materials. The purpose of these rules is to encourage the collection and recycling of hazardous waste. NREL reported that a similar designation of lithium-ion batteries could alleviate the problem of responsibility and make recycling more economical.
Article source: OFweek lithium grid

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