In a project called RecycleMat, the Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW) in Germany developed a method to recover and reprocess active materials extracted from used lithium-ion batteries for direct use in new batteries.

The material powders reactivated via this new method – a heat-treatment process that removes impurities from the particles’ surfaces and restores the crystalline material structure – exhibit 95% of their original capacity. This holds true for both the metal oxides in batteries’ positive electrodes and also for the graphite in negative electrodes. ZSW researchers have already reused and taken electrochemical measurements of these recycled materials in new battery cells.

ZSW launched the project in August 2020 to develop a resource-sparing way of recovering active materials from used or defective battery electrodes’ cathode (the positive terminal) and anode (the negative terminal).