While rechargeable lithium ion batteries (LIBs) occupy a prominent consumer presence due to their high cell potential and gravimetric energy density, there are limited opportunities for electrode recycling. Currently used or proposed cathode recycling processes are multistep procedures which involve sequences of mechanical, thermal, and chemical leaching, where only the base material is recovered and significant processing is required to generate a recycled electrode structure. Another significant issue facing lithium based batteries is capacity fade due to structural degradation of the electroactive material upon extending cycling. Herein, inspired by heterogeneous catalyst thermal regeneration strategies, we present a new facile cathode recycling process, where previously used cathodes are removed from a cell, heat treated, and then inserted into a new cell restoring the delivered capacity and cycle life. An environmentally sustainable manganese based material is employed, where binder-free self-supporting (BFSS) electrodes are prepared using a fibrous, high aspect ratio manganese oxide active material. After 200 discharge-charge cycles, the recycled BFSS electrodes display restored crystallinity and oxidation state of the manganese centers with the resulting electrochemistry (capacity and coulombic efficiency) reminiscent of freshly prepared BFSS cathodes. Notably, the BFSS electrode structure is robust with no degradation during the cell disassembly, electrode recovery, washing, and heat treatment steps; thus no post-processing is required for the recycled electrode. This work shows for the first time that a thermal regeneration method previously employed in catalyst systems can fully restore battery electrochemical performance, demonstrating a novel electrode recycling process which could open up new possibilities for energy storage devices with extended electrode lifecycles.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Chemistry