Recycling of lithium ion batteries

The overarching aim of the BCSECM Recycling of Lithium-Ion Batteries (ReLiB) Faraday Institution project is to establish the technological, economic and legal infrastructure required to optimise the efficiency of material management from Lithium-Ion batteries utilised in the automotive sector. 

The ReLiB project aims to understand the conditions required to ensure the sustainable management of lithium-ion batteries when they reach the end of their useful life in electric vehicles. This will enhance the overall efficiency of the supply chain and ensure that the UK has the facilities required for safe, economic and environmentally sound management of the materials contained in lithium-ion batteries.

In order to do this the following stages must be optimised: 

  • Evaluation of the condition of EV battery packs
  • Efficient and Safe systems for repair, reconditioning and re-use of battery packs and components
  • Systems for recovering the components and materials from batteries when they can no longer be used in the vehicle or in other energy storage applications.

Since many of the components in batteries are made from valuable elements with special properties and which should not be disposed of as waste it makes sense to explore how these could be recovered from end-of-life batteries to develop a system for re-circulating this material for new battery production. This would reduce the demand for imported primary materials and would also enhance the security of supply and material efficiency.

The team will tackle the most demanding technical challenges in sensing, gateway testing, robotic sorting, re-use, recycling and characterisation. The processes developed will be quantitatively assessed by specialists in lifecycle, technical and economic assessment. New business models and regulatory frameworks will be examined in the context of the complete, full-cycle value chain.

The ReLiB project will have a significant impact on the safety, economics, and efficiency of battery recycling whilst minimising the environmental impact of these processes. Introducing robotics into the waste and recycling sector, will boost productivity, stabilise the existing jobs market and could also draw jobs into the UK by providing valuable raw materials to feed in further up manufacturing supply chains. 


In 2017 the Transportation sector was the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK. Despite improvements in fuel efficiency emissions there have been no significant reductions from this sector since 1990 (see section on the UK’s Climate Change Commitments).

There must be major reductions in emissions from the Transport sector if the UK Government is to meet its legal commitment to reduce UK GHG emissions by 80% by 2050. To achieve this there must be a rapid transition from vehicles powered by fossil fuels to ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs).

At present the main technology being utilised for hybrid and full electric vehicles is based on the use of lithium-ion battery systems.

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