Lithium batteries will now be made using recycled components

A collaborative effort in North America has set up a circular loop for recycling metals like lithium, cobalt, manganese, and nickel.
Ameya Paleja
Recycled components in Li-ion batteries can help reduce emission from its manufacture
Recycled components in Li-ion batteries can help reduce emission from its manufacture


Global chemical producer BASF has teamed up with companies in the US to make lithium-ion cells with recycled materials, a press release said. The approach is expected to reduce the carbon footprint of batteries by as much as 25 percent.

Lithium-ion batteries are a crucial component of the energy transition occurring around the world as countries look to move away from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. The transition is being done with the aim of reducing emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. However, as we look to beef up our energy infrastructure to overcome the intermittency of renewable energy, the impact of lithium-ion batteries also comes to the fore.

Lithium, the major component in batteries, is not available freely and needs to be mined and transported, both of which are fossil-fuel-driven processes, resulting in carbon emissions. The move from BASF is a step toward reducing the carbon impact of lithium-ion batteries, which are in high demand.

Production from recycled materials

BASF's facility in Battle Creek, Michigan, is currently producing cathode active materials that are used in lithium-ion batteries by Nanotech Energy, a Los Angeles-based energy products company.

Under a new arrangement, BASF has tied up with a lithium-ion battery recycling company in Reno, Nevada called American Battery Technology Company (ABTC) as well as TODA Advanced Materials Inc. (TODA), which makes precursors for Cathode Active Materials (pCAM) and metal hydroxide materials.

These tie-ups have created a battery value chain in North America, where batteries made by Nanotech can be recycled by ABTC, and battery-grade metals such as nickel, cobalt, manganese, and lithium will be used by TODA and BASF to produce pCAM and CAM, respectively, completing the circular chain.

Teaming up to reduce emissions

According to the press release, BASF has been providing similar services based on recycled materials as a solution in Asia for many years. The company recently announced a similar recycling facility in Europe and has now completed the loop in North America.

Lithium batteries will now be made using recycled components
Recycling can aid in reducing emissions from manufacturing process

"Our partnership with Nanotech, ABTC, and TODA marks an important step for BASF’s global battery recycling business," said Daniel Schönfelder, Senior Vice President of Battery Base Metals and Recycling at BASF, in the press release. "This enables BASF and Nanotech to produce lithium-ion batteries with locally recycled content.”

As lithium-ion batteries are rapidly becoming crucial components of electrified transport as well as energy storage solutions, it is necessary to ensure that their usage does not create new problems in the future, and recycling components is an important step in this direction.

"By working together, our four companies can pool their expertise and drive better and more sustainable outcomes for the entire North American electric vehicle and consumer electronics industries," said Curtis Collar at Nanotech Energy. "This is a major milestone among the ongoing advances and growth of the lithium-ion battery market, and we are proud playing such a key role in the reduction of CO2 emissions along the battery value chain.”