A perspective on the current state of battery recycling and future improved designs to promote sustainable, safe, and economically viable battery recycling strategies for sustainable energy storage.
Recent years have seen the rapid growth in lithium-ion battery (LIB) production to serve emerging markets in electric vehicles and grid storage. As large volumes of these batteries reach their end of life, the need for sustainable battery recycling and recovery of critical materials is a matter of utmost importance. Global reserves for critical LIB elements such as lithium, cobalt, and nickel will soon be outstripped by growing cumulative demands. Despite advances in conventional recycling strategies such as pyrometallurgy and hydrometallurgy, they still face limitations in high energy consumption, high greenhouse gas emissions, as well as limited profitability. While new direct recycling methods are promising, they also face obstacles such as the lack of proper battery labeling, logistical challenges of inefficient spent battery collection, and components separation. Here, we discuss the importance of recovering critical materials, and how battery designs can be improved from the cell to module level in order to facilitate recyclability. The economic and environmental implications of various recycling approaches are analyzed, along with policy suggestions to develop a dedicated battery recycling infrastructure. We also discuss promising battery recycling strategies and how these can be applied to existing and future new battery chemistries.