Direct Cathode Recycling of End-Of-Life Li-Ion Batteries Enabled by Redox Mediation

Kyusung Park, Jiuling Yu, Jaclyn Coyle, Qiang Dai, Sarah Frisco, Meng Zhou, Anthony Burrell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus Citations


The ongoing surge of electric vehicle (EV) adoption forecasts an unprecedented amount of lithium-ion battery wastes in the near future. Since cathode materials have the highest economic and engineering values, it is essential to recycle and reuse the end-of-life (EOL) cathode materials. Here, we show that redox mediators can deliver lithium ions and electrons from a lithium source to the cathode, efficiently relithiate the EOL cathode materials, and make them ready for new battery production after a postheat treatment. We have found that some quinone-based redox mediators, especially 3,5-di-tert-butyl-o-benzoquinone (DTBQ), can shuttle the charges very fast between Li metal and EOL cathode. Reduction of DTBQ on lithium is evidenced by chemical changes of Li metal and DTBQ, and successful relithiation of the EOL cathode by the subsequent oxidation of DTBQ is verified by electrochemical and structural evaluations.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)8214-8221
Number of pages8
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering
Issue number24
StatePublished - 21 Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5K00-78474


  • battery recycling
  • direct cathode recycling
  • end-of-life battery
  • quinone
  • redox mediator


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