Anode Upcycling via Tailored Solvent Treatment

Kae Fink, Max Schulze, Nick McKalip, Ankit Verma, Zach Berquist, John Mangum, Andrew Colclasure, Seoung-Bum Son, Brian Ingram

Research output: NRELPresentation


To achieve a truly closed-loop direct recycling process for lithium-ion batteries, all component materials must be recovered. To date, direct recycling method development has primarily focused on the high-value transition-metal cathode materials, while the inherently lower-value graphite has been challenging to recover in a cost-effective manner. However, end-of-life graphite contains a unique engineered value due to the presence of the solid electrolyte interphase (SEI). Growth of the SEI during the cell's active lifetime stabilizes the electronically reactive graphite surface through an irreversible consumption of Li, and thus necessitates both excess lithiation of the cathode and a costly and time-intensive formation procedure during manufacturing. An optimized pre-formed SEI that capitalizes on existing SEI components from end-of-life batteries has the potential to significantly reduce cathode lithiation requirements and eliminate the critical bottleneck of formation cycling during cell remanufacturing. Further, retaining Li at the anode obviates the need for a separate Li leaching and recovery step, improving the overall efficiency of the direct recycling line. In this work, we present a novel approach to "upcycling" spent graphite through use of tailored chemical treatment to remove adverse (i.e., highly resistive and/or poorly passivating) SEI species while retaining beneficially passivating components. We have explored a rational set of solvents spanning a range of polarity, proticity, and molecular size to evaluate structure-property-performance relationships between applied solvent(s), removed and remaining SEI species, and electrochemical response of the resulting graphite product. Further, we have developed and optimized a robust and holistic analysis procedure that couples symmetric-cell electrochemical testing, multi-modal materials characterization, and advanced electrochemical modeling. These analysis results inform a set of correlative metrics for graphite performance relative to both solvent properties and upcycled SEI composition. We demonstrate effective tunability in the residual SEI composition by varying solvent identity and concentration, and report on several promising solvent systems that achieve comparable or performance to pristine graphite.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages41
StatePublished - 2024

Publication series

NamePresented at the 245th Electrochemical Society (ECS) Meeting, 26-30 May 2024, San Francisco, California

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-5700-89971


  • anode recycling
  • anode upcycling
  • graphite recycling
  • solvent treatment


Dive into the research topics of 'Anode Upcycling via Tailored Solvent Treatment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this