The TRUMPF Group’s corporate venture capital unit has acquired a minority stake in the US start-up Battery Resourcers. Headquartered in Worcester, Massachusetts, Battery Resourcers has developed an efficient and eco-friendly process for recycling lithium-ion batteries. Unlike conventional methods that start by breaking down batteries into their separate chemical components, this new approach directly synthesizes new battery-ready cathode active materials from spent lithium-ion cells.
“The new recycling process developed by Battery Resourcers enhances the sustainability of e-mobility. It keeps scarce resources available in the circular economy, cuts the cost of manufacturing new battery cells, and saves energy in the production process,” says Dieter Kraft, Managing Director of TRUMPF Venture. The new technology recovers 97 percent of the metals contained in the battery cell, reducing cathode cost by 35 percent which compares well to manufacturing a new cell from virgin material. It also reduces production emissions by around 32 percent and energy consumption by 13 percent.
Lithium-ion batteries lie at the heart of most of today’s commercial electric vehicles. They are made from materials such as lithium, nickel, manganese and cobalt, which are expensive to mine and, in some cases, unsustainable. This is why the industry is determined to find the most efficient way to recycle battery cells.
“Our aim is to establish a sustainable value chain for lithium-ion batteries. Our technology can recycle almost all the materials used in cell production – not just for the batteries used in e-mobility, but also for the kinds of smaller batteries found in consumer electronics as well as large, industrial storage batteries regardless of their Lithium-Ion-based chemistries,” says Mike O’Kronley, CEO Battery Resourcers. Conventional recycling options are based on complex processes that mechanically crush the battery cells and chemically separate the mix of materials into individual purified constituent elements such as nickel, cobalt, manganese and lithium. The new method developed by Battery Resourcers eliminates much of this chemical processing by allowing the material mix to be turned into new active cathode material without the separation step, still resetting all memory from previous applications.
“This is a field that will be vitally important in the future. By investing in Battery Resourcers’ promising technology, we’re reinforcing our commitment to e-mobility,” says Kraft. As a key provider of high-tech manufacturing equipment, TRUMPF already plays an important role in driving forward e-mobility. The company’s systems and machines are ideally designed for tasks such as cutting sheet-metal components for battery housings and foils, and TRUMPF lasers are the perfect choice for welding battery cells, electronic contacts and electric motors.
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