Lithium ion battery recycling project receives £955k from Innovate UK

The Innovate UK grant of £955,000 has been given to Fenix Battery Recycling, Ever Resource and the University of Birmingham to make batteries for electric vehicles more environmentally friendly.

The project is a reaction to the uptake in electric vehicles across the UK, which use lithium ion batteries. The research collaborative aims to develop separation technologies for end-of-life lithium ion batteries

Damian Lambkin, Commercial and Business Development Director at Fenix Battery Recycling
Damian Lambkin, Commercial and Business Development Director at Fenix Battery Recycling
The funding comes from the Government’s Innovate UK Smart Grants programme, which offers grants to organisations that advance fiscally feasible Research and Development innovations.

The project has also received backing from Formula E, a single-seater motorsport championship that only uses electric cars.

The University of Birmingham research group, including Professor of Energy Materials Emma Kendrick and Dr Rob Somerville, has designed a process which physically separates anode-arisings and cathode-arisings in shredded end-of-life lithium batteries, without any chemical processing.

Such developments could also be applied to other battery types, making downstream recycling processes more sustainable and eco-friendly. The Innovate UK funding would allow for the technology to be used in commercial battery recycling.

Ever Resource Ltd is a research-led company that turns waste into feed-stock and produces value-added products from end-of-life materials.

Fenix Battery Recycling is in the process of developing a facility that allows lithium ion battery recycling, in addition to the recycling of other battery types, from its sites in Willenhall, West Midlands and Kilwinning, Scotland.

Chief Executive Officer of Ever Resource and Director of Technology for Fenix Battery Recycling, Dr Athan Fox, commented: “Lithium ion is at the forefront of the electric transport and energy storage revolution.

“The market for these batteries is currently growing at a compound annual growth rate of 18 per cent - but there is no cradle-to-grave solution for all of the technology metals and minerals used to manufacture these batteries.

“To support global recycling initiatives in this space, we are developing an innovative system which physically separates with more than 99% efficiency anode-arisings and cathode-arisings in shredded end-of-life lithium batteries.

“By separating these component streams before downstream chemical or metallurgical processing, we are making recycling cleaner, greener and more economically sensible.”

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Fenix Battery Recycling’s Willenhall plant is waiting for its permit from the Environmental Agency, having been prepared to recycle alkaline batteries since October 2020.

Commercial and Business Development Director at Fenix Battery Recycling Damian Lambkin said: “Our Willenhall plant has been ready to open its doors since October 2020, so we look forward to receiving the permit very soon.

“We are also accepting lithium ion batteries now, which we will store at our fully licensed and permitted site in Kilwinning, Scotland, ready for recycling when our lithium ion shredding operation kicks off in the next 6-12 months.

“We are in a position to be storing and discharging already and will be able to start this as part of the treatment process as we receive the materials."

Innovate UK grants have also been offered to similar projects that research sustainable solutions to resource management.

For example, a project spearheaded by the Materials Processing Institute aims to recover lithium and graphite from used electric batteries.

Meanwhile, Heriot-Watt University is using its Innovate UK grant to develop non-hazardous materials from the surplus hazardous waste produced during the recycling process.