SOLUTIONS: Breakthrough in direct recycling of lithium-ion batteries

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By Huck Fairman

Princeton NuEnergy (PNE,) a US-based, innovative clean-tech start-up, founded out of Princeton University in 2019 and launched into commercial production in 2022, is quickly revolutionizing the critical materials supply chain with its patented direct recycling technology for lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) used in most electric vehicles.

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Using a novel plasma-assisted process, PNE successfully reclaims high-value materials, including rejuvenated cathode and anode materials suitable for direct reintroduction into cell manufacturing. Compared to conventional methods, PNE’s process offers low cost, a low carbon footprint, and no hazardous emissions – all at a high recycling efficiency rate.

Lithium-ion batteries have emerged as the battery of choice for electric vehicles and energy storage. Demand for lithium, cobalt, nickel, manganese, and other critical materials has increased and is expected to soon outstrip supply. PNE’s novel technology enables the direct recovery of these LIB materials — at a lower cost than either sourcing virgin materials or conventional recycling.

Five patents pending, over 37 trade secrets and multiple years of R&D at Princeton University have developed and refined the core plasma-assisted recovery processes (LPAS™) that yield the repaired cathode material. This advanced manufacturing process allows scrap and spent batteries to immediately be directly injected back into the battery supply chain at half the cost and zero waste when compared with conventional pyro- and hydro- metallurgical processes.

PNE’s direct recycling solution can meet the growing demand for economically viable and environmentally friendly recovery of critical energy materials, essential for the U.S. to remain competitive and meet the challenges of energy decarbonization in addressing the global climate crisis.

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