Techno-Economic Impact of a Smart Battery Sorting System: Cooperative Research and Development Final Report, CRADA Number CRD-21-17531

Dustin Weigl

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


Create analytical framework to capture costs and benefits of the automated sorting into battery recycling including the development and deployment of various types of battery recycling technologies such as pyrometallurgical, hydrometallurgical, and direct recycling. Li Industries, Inc. is a Virginia startup company focused on reinventing how lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) are recycled. Li Industries is focused on developing direct LIB recycling and automated battery sorting technologies in order to reduce the environmental impact of the LIB lifecycle. This work is to be conducted in support of the American-Made Challenges Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize. Li Industries and NREL will work together to understand how novel technologies, such as those being developed by Li Industries, can impact the development and economics of the battery recycling industry. This voucher is being used to evaluate the profitability of an automated sorting system developed by Li Industries and the potential effect this increased value could have on the domestic lithium-ion battery (LIB) recycling industries in the United States. NREL has developed the Lithium-Ion Battery Resources Assessment (LIBRA) system dynamics model to project the future viability of the US LIB manufacturing and recycling industries under varying technoeconomic conditions and battery adoption scenarios over the coming decades. Additional logic was added to LIBRA to analyze the role automated sorting of recycling feedstock could play in the buildout of the industry and the impacts it has on the recovery of end-of-life (EOL) battery materials. This report summarizes the outcomes of this modeling analysis in the US context through a series of sensitivity analyses run for a range of values of a given input dimension and compared across the unsorted or automated sorting cases for LIB recycling feedstock. For greater detail on the process and analysis, the researchers are publishing a forthcoming journal article titled Techno-Economic Impact of a Smart Battery Sorting System for Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling and Mineral Recovery in the United States by Weigl, et al. In the event the article is not accepted by any currently seeking publication in academic or industry journal, it may be published by NREL. CRADA benefit to DOE, Participant, and US Taxpayer: assists laboratory in achieving programmatic scope competencies, uses the laboratory's core competencies.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages18
StatePublished - 2022

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5400-83532


  • circular economy
  • lithium-ion batteries
  • recycling


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