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There is no Li-ion battery recycling standard, but that may be about to change

Lithium-ion battery development and production is rapidly escalating worldwide, yet there’s no standard when it comes to battery designs, materials, and chemistries. And that affects the ability to recycle Li-ion batteries – a vital final stage of their life cycle. But this may be about to change in the US.

Li-ion battery recycling

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory yesterday announced that it’s signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), which represents US energy storage manufacturers. Or as NEMA describes itself, “We are the US electroindustry.”

Under the MOU, Argonne and NEMA will work together to develop recycling standards for Li-ion batteries in order to help manufacturers understand what materials and designs will be more recyclable. To date, manufacturers have focused on producing Li-ion batteries cheaply and efficiently, so they now need to turn their attention to batteries’ end-of-life.

Jeff Spangenberger, the Materials Recycling R&D group lead at Argonne and director of the ReCell Center, a battery recycling R&D center led by Argonne and funded by DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Vehicle Technologies Office, said:

Standards can give recyclers a baseline for how much material, and in turn how much revenue, they can expect to recover from a battery. They can also help manufacturers understand what materials and designs are likely to be more recyclable, which can inform their research and development.

Our decades of expertise in battery research and the specialized tools we have to solve problems in this space are what make us a good partner in this endeavor. We’re excited to integrate our knowledge with NEMA’s industry expertise to create a more robust battery recycling market here in the US.

We at Electrek will watch this space with great interest, as creating a recycling standard will need to be balanced with almost constant innovation in the Li-ion battery sector.

Read more: Here’s what the US needs to do to meet snowballing battery demand

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Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in White River Junction, Vermont. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.