A battery recycling start-up is claiming a UK first, announcing today that it has isolated a key component to make new lithium-ion batteries from end-of-life power plant scrap.

At its recycling plant in Devon, Altilium Metals has extracted what battery scientists refer to as Cathode Active Materials from the “black mass” residue in exhausted batteries.

CAM encompasses critical compounds such as nickel, lithium, copper and cobalt.  Altilium firm has delivered its first samples to Imperial College, London, to be analysed under a joint research programme partly funded by the UK government’s Automotive Transformation Fund.

Under the programme, Altilium works with Imperial to compare the electrochemical performance of the recycled materials, benchmarking them against newly manufactured cathodes made from virgin materials.

The compounds will be analysed in coin cells and single layer pouch cells, similar to those powering cars such as the Nissan Leaf.  The object of the exercise is to demonstrate if Altilium Metals’ recycled CAM can lower costs in producing new batteries from recycled materials.

The collaboration is one of 22 projects to receive funding through a competition run last year by the government’s Advanced Propulsion Centre.

Dr. Christian Marston, the firm’s chief technical officer  commented: “Cathode Active Material (CAM) is key to electric vehicle battery performance.  At our battery technology centre we are using advanced materials science to re-engineer and upcycle battery scrap to produce new and relevant cathode active materials, reducing the UK’s dependency on overseas supply chains.”

Dr. Magda Titirici, Imperial’s professor of sustainable energy materials, added: “We are excited to be working with Altilium on the very important issue of creating a circular battery supply chain. Tney’ll make a significant contribution towards achieving the UK’s net zero goals.

“As well as testing the recycled cathode materials, our research team will be working to optimise their performance to the same or even higher levels as cathodes made from virgin metals.”

A spokesperson for the Advanced Propulsion Centre described the link: “As an exciting step forward in the challenge to improve the critical materials supply for the electrification of vehicles. The programme also demonstrates the benefits of sustainable end-oflife battery recycling, reducing the UK’s dependency on overseas supply chains.


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