The Research Training Group targets to lay the scientific foundations for a circular economy and the production of lithium-ion batteries in Lower Saxony.
In order to achieve carbon neutrality and thereby limit the impact of climate change, personal transportation needs to transition from combustion engines to battery electric propulsion. Thus it is of the utmost importance to accelerate the research and development of batteries parallel to increasing battery production capacities.
To achieve the greatest benefits of the transition towards battery electric vehicles, a significantly more sustainable battery production process is needed. A critical aspect is the availability of the resources required for lithium-ion batteries, with expected limitations resulting in high material costs. In addition there are severe ethical and environmental concerns over the conditions of mining for several of these materials. On the other hand, due to a number of heavy metal and toxic components, waste components from used lithium-ion batteries create environmental risks.
The aim is therefore to establish both a Circular Battery Production and a Circular Battery Economy, with circularity meaning the complete recycling of all critical battery components, minimizing the need of resources and the generation of waste. In order to achieve this, the batteries need to be recycled after the end of their useful life, thereby recovering their component materials via re-synthesis and re-conditioning, thus creating a closed loop system. Here the overall performance of the battery materials during the active life phase will be of particular interest. As will be the impact of potential impurities, that may accumulate over successive recycling cycles, on the performance of newly produced batteries. Currently, a complete overview of the recycling cycle that takes into account each individual step and technological process, as well as the maximum achievable purity of the recycled materials, especially over multiple recycling cycles, does not yet exist. This knowledge can help establish an economically viable and ecologically sustainable battery production cycle.