Battery Recycling and Reuse

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research

What it is

Battery recycling and reuse involve recovering valuable materials from end-of-life batteries and repurposing them for new battery production or other applications. This approach addresses the growing environmental concerns associated with battery disposal, conserves valuable resources, and promotes a circular economy within the battery industry.

Impact on climate action

Battery Recycling and Reuse within Battery Storage enhances climate action by reducing resource extraction and waste generation. By recovering valuable materials from used batteries and reintegrating them into manufacturing, this innovation conserves resources, reduces emissions associated with battery production, and promotes a circular economy, mitigating environmental impact.


  • Battery Recycling Processes: Various recycling processes are used to recover materials from batteries, including:
    • Pyrometallurgy: This process uses high temperatures to smelt batteries and recover metals, such as cobalt, nickel, and copper.
    • Hydrometallurgy: This process uses chemical solutions to leach metals from battery materials.
    • Direct Recycling: This emerging technology aims to directly recover and reuse battery materials without breaking them down into their constituent elements.
  • Material Recovery and Purification: Recovered materials need to be purified and processed to meet the specifications for use in new batteries or other applications.
  • Second-Life Battery Applications: Batteries that are no longer suitable for their original application, such as electric vehicles, can be repurposed for less demanding applications, such as stationary energy storage.
  • Circular Economy Principles: Battery recycling and reuse align with the principles of the circular economy, aiming to eliminate waste and keep resources in circulation.

TRL : 6-8 (depending on the specific technology and application)

Prominent Innovation themes

  • Advanced Recycling Technologies: Researchers and startups are developing more efficient and environmentally friendly recycling processes, such as direct recycling and closed-loop hydrometallurgical processes.
  • Automated Battery Disassembly: Automation technologies are being used to improve the efficiency and safety of battery disassembly, a crucial step in the recycling process.
  • Battery Sorting and Grading: Innovations in battery sorting and grading technologies are improving the accuracy and efficiency of identifying and sorting different types of batteries for recycling.
  • Second-Life Battery Management Systems: Advanced battery management systems are being developed to monitor and optimize the performance of second-life batteries in stationary energy storage applications.

Other Innovation Subthemes

  • Sustainable Material Recovery
  • Closed-Loop Recycling Systems
  • Advanced Metallurgical Processes
  • Circular Economy Integration
  • Automated Disassembly Technologies
  • Second-Life Battery Utilization
  • Efficient Resource Extraction
  • Battery Material Purification
  • Next-Generation Recycling Methods
  • Smart Battery Sorting Solutions
  • Enhanced Battery Management Systems
  • Environmental Impact Studies
  • AI-Optimized Recycling Processes
  • Industrial-Scale Recycling Facilities
  • Innovative Battery Repurposing

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  1. Li-Cycle:
    • Technology Enhancement: Li-Cycle specializes in advanced lithium-ion battery recycling technologies. Their process involves mechanical shredding, hydrometallurgical extraction, and purification of battery materials, such as lithium, cobalt, and nickel, for reuse in new battery manufacturing. Li-Cycle’s innovative approach enables high recovery rates of valuable materials while minimizing environmental impact.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Li-Cycle stands out for its closed-loop approach to battery recycling, focusing on recovering and refining battery materials to the highest purity levels. Their proprietary Spoke & Hub technology allows for scalable and modular recycling facilities, providing efficient and cost-effective solutions for battery manufacturers, OEMs, and end-of-life battery handlers.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Li-Cycle serves battery manufacturers, electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers, electronics companies, and recycling partners seeking sustainable solutions for battery end-of-life management. Their recycling services support the circular economy by reintroducing recycled materials into the supply chain, reducing reliance on primary resources, and minimizing waste.
  2. Redwood Materials:
    • Technology Enhancement: Redwood Materials specializes in the recycling and processing of lithium-ion batteries and electronic waste (e-waste). Their recycling process involves disassembly, shredding, and chemical extraction of valuable metals and materials, including lithium, cobalt, and graphite. Redwood Materials aims to create a closed-loop supply chain for battery materials, facilitating sustainable resource management and reducing environmental impact.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Redwood Materials stands out for its focus on circular economy principles and its holistic approach to battery recycling and material recovery. Their partnership with EV manufacturers and electronics companies enables them to collect and recycle large volumes of batteries and e-waste, contributing to the development of a more sustainable and resilient supply chain.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Redwood Materials serves EV manufacturers, electronics companies, and battery recyclers seeking efficient and environmentally responsible solutions for end-of-life battery management. Their recycling services support the transition to cleaner energy technologies by ensuring the responsible reuse and recycling of critical battery materials.
  3. Glencore:
    • Technology Enhancement: Glencore is a global resource company involved in the mining, processing, and recycling of metals and minerals, including battery materials. Their battery recycling operations focus on recovering cobalt, nickel, and other metals from spent lithium-ion batteries and electronic devices. Glencore utilizes both pyrometallurgical and hydrometallurgical processes to extract and refine valuable metals for reuse in various industries.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Glencore stands out for its integrated approach to battery materials supply chain management, combining mining, processing, and recycling capabilities. Their expertise in metallurgy and materials science enables them to extract maximum value from spent batteries while minimizing environmental impact and promoting resource efficiency.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Glencore serves battery manufacturers, automotive companies, electronics manufacturers, and other industries reliant on critical battery materials. Their recycling services contribute to the circular economy by providing sustainable sources of raw materials for battery production, reducing reliance on virgin resources and supporting responsible sourcing practices.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  1. University of California, Berkeley:
    • Research Focus: UC Berkeley is at the forefront of research on Battery Recycling and Reuse, focusing on developing sustainable and cost-effective processes for recycling lithium-ion batteries and recovering valuable materials for reuse in new battery manufacturing.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves the development of advanced separation techniques, hydrometallurgical processes, and electrochemical methods for recovering metals such as lithium, cobalt, nickel, and manganese from spent batteries. They also explore novel recycling technologies, circular economy models, and policy frameworks to promote closed-loop battery supply chains and reduce environmental impacts.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in electric vehicle (EV) batteries, grid-scale energy storage systems, and portable electronics. By establishing efficient recycling pathways, UC Berkeley’s research supports the sustainable management of battery waste, reduces reliance on virgin materials, and mitigates resource scarcity and environmental pollution.
  2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT):
    • Research Focus: MIT conducts pioneering research on Battery Recycling and Reuse, leveraging its expertise in materials science, electrochemistry, and sustainability to develop innovative approaches for recovering and remanufacturing lithium-ion battery components.
    • Uniqueness: Their research encompasses the development of closed-loop recycling processes, mechanical and chemical methods for battery disassembly, and novel electrode materials with improved recyclability and performance. They also explore the economic, environmental, and social implications of battery recycling, lifecycle analysis, and circular economy strategies to inform policy decisions and industry practices.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work find applications in electric mobility, renewable energy storage, and electronic devices. By advancing battery recycling technologies, MIT’s research supports the development of a sustainable and resilient energy infrastructure, facilitates the transition to clean transportation, and fosters resource efficiency and waste reduction.
  3. Argonne National Laboratory:
    • Research Focus: Argonne National Laboratory is engaged in innovative research on Battery Recycling and Reuse, leveraging its multidisciplinary capabilities in materials characterization, process engineering, and energy systems analysis to address the technical and economic challenges of battery recycling.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves the development of scalable recycling technologies, recovery processes, and material recovery methods for lithium-ion batteries and emerging battery chemistries. They also collaborate with industry partners, government agencies, and international organizations to establish best practices, standards, and regulations for battery recycling and sustainability.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in automotive, energy storage, and consumer electronics sectors. By supporting the development of a circular economy for batteries, Argonne’s research contributes to reducing lifecycle impacts, conserving resources, and promoting the responsible use and management of energy storage technologies.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

Battery recycling and reuse are growing industries, with several companies operating commercial-scale recycling facilities and offering second-life battery solutions. For example, Li-Cycle operates a commercial lithium-ion battery recycling facility in Rochester, New York, while Redwood Materials is building a large-scale battery materials recycling and manufacturing facility in Nevada.