Impact of recycling on cradle-to-gate energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions of automotive lithium-ion batteries

Jennifer B. Dunn*, Linda Gaines, John Sullivan, Michael Q. Wang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

255 Scopus citations

Abstract

This paper addresses the environmental burdens (energy consumption and air emissions, including greenhouse gases, GHGs) of the material production, assembly, and recycling of automotive lithium-ion batteries in hybrid electric, plug-in hybrid electric, and battery electric vehicles (BEV) that use LiMn 2O4 cathode material. In this analysis, we calculated the energy consumed and air emissions generated when recovering LiMn 2O4, aluminum, and copper in three recycling processes (hydrometallurgical, intermediate physical, and direct physical recycling) and examined the effect(s) of closed-loop recycling on environmental impacts of battery production. We aimed to develop a U.S.-specific analysis of lithium-ion battery production and in particular sought to resolve literature discrepancies concerning energy consumed during battery assembly. Our analysis takes a process-level (versus a top-down) approach. For a battery used in a BEV, we estimated cradle-to-gate energy and GHG emissions of 75 MJ/kg battery and 5.1 kg CO2e/kg battery, respectively. Battery assembly consumes only 6% of this total energy. These results are significantly less than reported in studies that take a top-down approach. We further estimate that direct physical recycling of LiMn2O4, aluminum, and copper in a closed-loop scenario can reduce energy consumption during material production by up to 48%.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12704-12710
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Volume46
Issue number22
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 20 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry

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