The aim of the ReLiB project is to establish the technological, economic and legal infrastructure to make the recycling of close to 100% of the materials contained in lithium ion batteries from the automotive sector possible. This will make better use of global resources, and ultimately increase the impact of batteries in improving air quality and decarbonisation.
The ReLiB team is tackling the most demanding technical challenges in sensing, gateway testing, robotic sorting, re-use, recycling and characterisation. The processes developed will be quantitatively assessed by specialists in lifecycle, technical and economic assessment. New business models and regulatory frameworks will be examined in the context of the complete, full-cycle value chain.
The key components of the project are:
• a ‘triage’ system for used battery assessment
• fully autonomous gateway testing and robotic sorting
• an assessment of the relative engineering and economic gains for various second life applications
• the development of recycling technologies to segregate and purify the different materials into a useful form for re-use in batteries or other applications
• life cycle analysis and techno-economic assessment of each recycling route developed
• development of new business models to promote the collection and sorting of batteries
• review of the regulatory framework for battery recycling in the UK and analysis of which EU waste laws should be retained law in the UK after Brexit
• full characterisation of active materials from cells near and at end of life and recycled materials recovered from used batteries, with respect to chemical composition (elemental concentration and distribution), particle size and morphology.
Introducing robotics into the waste and recycling sector will boost productivity, stabilise the existing jobs market and could also draw jobs into the UK by providing valuable raw materials to feed in further up manufacturing supply chains. The ReLiB project will have a significant impact on the safety, economics and efficiency of battery recycling whilst minimising the environmental impact of these processes.
The project is led by Dr Paul Anderson of the University of Birmingham and includes seven other academic institutions (University of Leicester, Newcastle University, Cardiff University, University of Liverpool, Oxford Brookes University, University of Edinburgh, and the Science and Technology Facilities Council) and 12 industrial partners.
For further details see the project's website.