Battery technology and recycling of batteries are becoming increasingly important as environmental requirements intensify. In a future with considerably increased battery use, in e.g. electrical vehicles, it will be important to develop environmentally friendly materials and efficient manufacturing techniques right from the start.
Swerea's research on structural composites is exciting as well as pioneering. By combining materials that can handle a structural load and simultaneously store energy, we have developed a multi-material with the potential for revolutionary applications.
The vehicle body can serve as a battery for example, which can reduce total vehicle weight and reduce energy consumption. The principle is the same as for conventional batteries, with the exception that the electrodes have the structural strength to carry loads.
Environmental adaptation of lithium-ion batteries
The manufacture of cathode materials for lithium-ion batteries is dominated by costly solvent-based processes with significant health- and environmental complications. Swerea has many years of experience in developing environmentally friendly, water-based systems for various types of ceramic pastes which we have applied in the development lithium-ion batteries. Life cycle assessment is also used in several projects to study and optimise various battery chemistries already at the design stage.
Recycling lithium-ion batteries in a circular system
During recycling of lithium-ion batteries, the metallurgic steps are the most energy consuming activities. Swerea develops methods for recycling lithium-ion batteries where the fundamental idea is to use existing metallurgic industry and its infrastructure as much as possible.
We examine and evaluate process chains and identify which of the products from the battery recycling can be efficiently brought back into industry. Our research focuses on methods in Nordic conditions and benefits from a modern, large-scale metallurgic industry.
Recycling of alkaline batteries
Sweden is number one when it comes to collecting used alkaline batteries, but it lacks a national battery recycling infrastructure. Instead, the batteries are exported and treated using expensive or technically ineffective processes. Swerea carries out research on more efficient battery recycling, where material is utilised in the manufacturing of new batteries. This includes requirements concerning environmental issues, economy and adaptation to the specific battery chemistry. The challenge is to be able to recycle not only zinc, but also manganese.