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ACE, NREL partner for developing low-cost Li-ion battery recycling tech

The U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has signed an agreement with ACE Green Recycling (ACE) to further develop and optimize ACE's sustainable and low-cost lithium-ion battery recycling technology.

As per the Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) signed between ACE and NREL, the newly developed technology will be used for recycling graphite, lithium-iron phosphate (LFP), and other cathode-active materials.

"Current hydrometallurgical recycling methods focus on extracting high-value materials from LFP batteries, such as lithium and copper," said Andrew Colclasure, NREL. "To encourage a more holistic approach to recycling, we must demonstrate efficient processes that also recycle low-value materials such as graphite and iron-phosphate into commercially viable products."

ACE has already developed its proprietary technology for recycling LFP batteries at bench scale and is currently undergoing commercial scale-up. Through the new agreement, NREL will assist ACE in evaluating the commercialization of this process to recycle LFP batteries and to upcycle graphite to develop it into battery-grade material.

The volume of LFP batteries is expected to grow rapidly in the next few years with major auto manufacturers like Tesla and Ford starting to switch to LFP batteries for their electric vehicles, shifting away from nickel and cobalt-based battery chemistries. However, LFP battery recycling has been particularly challenging due to the difficulty in extracting its materials (lithium and graphite) profitably.

Further, NREL will provide its capabilities in cell production, modeling, analysis, and other advanced tools to demonstrate ACE technology's value proposition. Overall, the project aims to identify optimal recycling parameters for LFP and graphite that will maximize the performance and lifetime requirements of batteries made from recycled materials using ACE's technology as compared to the ones made from virgin materials.

"We are excited to work with the talented team at NREL in our journey to commercialize our lithium-ion battery recycling technology and help the United States move towards sustainable domestic battery materials supply chain," said ACE Green's Co-founder and CTO, Vipin Tyagi. 


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