The Role of Innovation in the Circularity of EV Lithium-Ion Batteries

Research output: NRELPresentation


This case study analysis highlights the role of innovations in EV battery design (cells, modules, and packs), reverse supply chain, and recycling processes in yielding value for the economics of recycling (and have the largest impact on the circularity of LIBs). Part of the assessment of value will be a semi-quantitative evaluation of the value of resilience in the rapidly evolving LIB market – i.e., there are a variety of risks that recyclers would face in making a financial commitment to a recycling facility including; the possibility that batteries would not be collected in sufficient quantities, the market for key constituents (e.g., cobalt) might decrease because of changes in battery chemistry, battery manufacturers may not be willing to pay as much for recycled material, etc. The analysis would be semi-quantitative in that two simple models would be used to assess 1. material flows using a previously developed excel-based reverse supply chain flows model, and 2. A LIB recycling process material and energy balance cost model that will be used to qualitatively assess the cost impacts of process innovations and changes in feed streams. Both sets of models are highly speculative in that they rely on a multitude of assumptions and input values (e.g., EV adoption rates) that vary widely in the literature. Additionally, the initial process flow diagrams and equipment lists for the recycling cost model are based on the Argonne EverBatt model, which is still under development. However, in combination with a critical review of the literature, economic modeling can yield valuable insights into the role of innovation in the circularity of LIBs and high-technology (“energy relevant”) products in general.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages22
StatePublished - 2020

Publication series

NamePresented at the 2020 International Symposium for Sustainable Systems and Technology (ISSST), 9-12 June 2020

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-6A20-77023


  • direct recycling
  • EV
  • li-ion battery
  • lithium-ion battery
  • recycling


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