Responsible Battery Coalition, Argonne partner on joint research project
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Responsible Battery Coalition, Argonne partner on joint research project

The groups plan to research advanced design, recycling programs for battery technologies.

November 4, 2019

The Responsible Battery Coalition (RBC), Milwaukee, has entered into a joint research project with Argonne National Laboratory, Chicago, to advance battery innovation and ensure that the batteries of tomorrow are designed for maximum recyclability, the coalition reports in a news release.

Argonne National Laboratory, operated by the University of Chicago for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), is a multidisciplinary science and engineering research center focused on solving domestic energy and environmental challenges through innovative science and technology solutions. RBC, a leader in innovation and collaboration in responsible battery management, is a coalition of battery manufacturers and recyclers, car and vehicle makers, fleet owners, service providers and aftermarket retailers with a common interest in the responsible management of batteries. 

The RBC-funded partnership is the first industry-sponsored project with the Argonne-led ReCell Center, a lithium-ion battery research and development initiative launched by DOE in early 2019 that also includes the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, RBC reports in a news release on the partnership.  

“By modeling the full life cycle of a battery in advance, a manufacturer has the opportunity to compare and contrast different battery chemistries ‘in the lab,’ which reduces risks and production costs, and allows for the design of batteries that are environmentally responsible, from initial materials selection through end-of-life,” says RBC's Executive Director Steve Christensen. “Between the globally renowned scientists and top of the line facilities available at Argonne, we are confident that our investment will lead to tangible, real-world solutions benefiting industry and consumers.” 

“As batteries play an ever-larger role in meeting society’s daily energy needs, in applications ranging from electric vehicles to powering homes to industrial-scale energy storage, evaluating and understanding life-cycle impacts is increasingly important,” says Jeff Spangenberger, director of the ReCell Center, who leads the research team at Argonne. “Using Argonne’s closed-loop recycling model, known as EverBatt, we will be able to generate critical information to help battery manufacturers design batteries with recycling in mind. Understanding the life cycle of a technology, such as advanced batteries, also supports the development of a circular economy, where all the components of a product are recovered and recycled at end of life.” 

Developing a circular economy approach is especially important for advanced battery technologies, which currently rely on metals that are in limited supply or produced in unstable regions. Over the next 20 years, the projected global spent battery volume from electric vehicles alone will increase to more than seven million metric tons annually, with more than two million metric tons produced in the United States alone. 

Without a breakthrough design and improved processes for recycling, RBC reports that there will be limited recovery of battery materials through recycling. “By understanding the full life cycle, batteries can be designed to help meet our energy needs, while also maximizing recyclability, which helps conserve limited resources and ensures good product stewardship,” Spangenberger says.

The RBC-Argonne project is expected to be completed by the end of 2019. RBC will work closely with Argonne to provide real-world manufacturing process input and help fill in any data gaps that may exist. Recycling best practices will be made available to battery manufacturers, original equipment manufacturers and recyclers following a real-world manufacturing process analysis.  

RBC and its members are committed to the responsible reuse, recycling and management of energy storage or batteries used in the transportation, industrial or stationary sectors, inspiring the next generation of energy storage technologies. 

RBC members include Advance Auto Parts, AutoZone, Clarios, Club Car, FedEx, Ford, Honda, LafargeHolcim, O’Reilly Auto Parts, Renova Energy, TerraCycle and Walmart.