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Roadmap for a sustainable circular economy in lithium-ion and future battery technologies

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Wojciech MrozikORCiD, Professor Paul ChristensenORCiD, Dr Simon LambertORCiD, Dr David Greenwood, Dr Prodip DasORCiD, Dr Mohamed Ahmeid, Dr Zoran Milojevic, Professor Oliver Heidrich



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


The market dynamics, and their impact on a future circular economy for lithium-ion batteries (LIB), are presented in this roadmap, with safety as an integral consideration throughout the life cycle. At the point of end-of-life, there is a range of potential options – remanufacturing, reuse and recycling. Diagnostics play a significant role in evaluating the state of health and condition of batteries, and improvements to diagnostic techniques are evaluated. At present, manual disassembly dominates end-of-life disposal, however, given the volumes of future batteries that are to be anticipated, automated approaches to the dismantling of end-of-life battery packs will be key. The first stage in recycling after the removal of the cells is the initial cell-breaking or opening step. Approaches to this are reviewed, contrasting shredding and cell disassembly as two alternative approaches. Design for recycling is one approach that could assist in easier disassembly of cells, and new approaches to cell design that could enable the circular economy of LIBs are reviewed. After disassembly, subsequent separation of the black mass is performed before further concentration of components. There are a plethora of alternative approaches for recovering materials; this roadmap sets out the future directions for a range of approaches including pyrometallurgy, hydrometallurgy, short-loop, direct, and the biological recovery of LIB materials. Furthermore, anode, lithium, electrolyte, binder and plastics recovery are considered in the range of approaches in order to maximise the proportion of materials recovered, minimise waste and point the way towards zero-waste recycling. The life-cycle implications of a circular economy are discussed considering the overall system of LIB recycling, and also directly investigating the different recycling methods. The legal and regulatory perspectives are also considered. Finally, with a view to the future, approaches for next-generation battery chemistries and recycling are evaluated, identifying gaps for research.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Harper G, Anderson PA, Kendrick E, Mrozik W, Christensen P, Lambert S, Greenwood D, Das PK, Ahmeid M, Milojevic Z, Du W, Brett DJL, Shearing PR, Rastegarpanah A, Solkin R, Sommerville R, Zorin A, Durham JL, Abbott A, Thompson D, Browning N, Mehdi L, Bahri M, Schnaider-Tontini F, Nicholls D, Stallmeister C, Friedrich B, Sommerfeld M, Driscoll LL, Jarvis A, Giles EC, Slater PR, Echavarri-Bravo V, Maddalena G, Horsfall L, Gaines L, Dai Q, Jethwa SJ, Lipson AL, Leeke GA, Cowell TD, Farthing JG, Mariani G, Smith A, Iqbal Z, Golmohammadzadeh R, Sweeney L, Goodship V, Li Z, Edge JS, Lander L, Nguyen-Tien V, Elliott RJR, Heidrich O, Slattery M, Reed D, Ahuja J, Cavoski A, Lee R, Driscoll E, Baker J, Littlewood PB, Styles I, Mahanty S, Boons F

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Physics: Energy

Year: 2023

Volume: 5

Online publication date: 09/12/2022

Acceptance date: 09/12/2022

Date deposited: 18/12/2022

ISSN (electronic): 2515-7655

Publisher: IOP Science


DOI: 10.1088/2515-7655/acaa57


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