The future of batteries

As our global population advances towards 9 billion there is an ever increasing demand for battery technologies which are used in modem electrical devices such as smartphones, electrical vehicles and a whole host of everyday products and services. However, the supply of some of the key elements used in batteries is dependent on imports from resource-dominant countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Australia where, for example, Cobalt (Co) and Lithium (Li) are produced from primary sources. An attractive solution to alleviate supply constraints would be to recycle end of life batteries. However, at present this is extremely challenging, both technologically and economically.

The Birmingham Centre for Strategic Elements and Critical Materials is working to mitigate the impact of supply constraints for critical elements such as Li and Co through approaches such as:

  • REPLACEMENT of critical materials or technologies with more abundant and sustainable alternatives
  • REGULATION to avoid shortages and environmentally damaging processes, but also to drive the circular economy
  • REDUCTION of the use of certain elements and materials by increasing the efficiency of technologies and manufacturing processes
  • RECOVERY of materials, including re-use and recycling.