New Funding Offered to Support the Research and Development of LiB Recycling Technology

April 15, 2021 by Stephanie Leonida

The UK Government awards £995K in funding to Fenix Battery Recycling, Ever Resource, and the University of Birmingham to support research and development of lithium-ion battery recycling technology.

Innovate UK is a part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). This is a national funding agency that invests in science and research in the UK and operates across the country. The UKRI is a non-departmental body that is funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government. 

Recently, the Government’s Innovate UK Smart Grants Program provided £955K in funding to Fenix Battery Recycling, Ever Resource Ltd, and the University of Birmingham. The funding was provided to this trio as part of an initiative to promote the development of technology that can help make the recycling of lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) more clean and sustainable for the environment. 


Image used courtesy of Fenix Battery Recycling 
Image used courtesy of Fenix Battery Recycling 


In the UK, the transport sector stood as the primary culprit for the country’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). For the UK government, it has become imperative that the GHG emissions from the transport sector be tackled, so that it may achieve its legal commitment of an 80% reduction by 2050.


Striving for Better Management of LiB Materials

The University of Birmingham’s Birmingham Centre for Strategic Elements and Critical Materials (BCSECM) Recycling of Lithium-Ion Batteries (ReLiB) Faraday Institution project, sets out to bring forward the technological, economical, and legal infrastructure to improve the efficiency of LIB materials that are used in the automotive sector. With this background geared toward engineering a more sustainable life-cycle of LiB materials, the University of Birmingham is well-positioned to utilize the UK Government’s funding for conducting cutting-edge research and generating beneficial technology that can potentially enhance material efficiency and supply chain security. 


 Image used courtesy of the University of Birmingham  
 Image used courtesy of the University of Birmingham


Researchers from the University of Birmingham have devised a way of physically separating anode-arisings and cathode-arisings in shredded end-of-life lithium batteries. The researchers believe that this technology could also be used for other battery types. The separating process has the potential to improve the efficiency and sustainability of a variety of downstream recycling processes. Professor of Energy Materials at the University of Birmingham, Emma Kendrick, and her research group, along with Dr. Rob Somerville were the individuals behind the invention of the process. 

The University will be working with Ever Resource Ltd and Fenix Battery Recycling, to scale up the technology with support provided by Innovate UK’s funding. The intent is to make this technology viable for commercial battery recycling. Ever Resource is a key innovator in the recycling of end-of-life materials. The company recycles lead-acid, lithium-ion, and alkaline batteries; end-of-life tires and plastic; municipal waste; and more. The project will also be supported by Formula E (the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship). This is a single-seater motorsport championship that uses only electric vehicles (EVs).

In a recent news release, 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% - but there is no cradle-to-grave solution for all of the technology metals and minerals used to manufacture these batteries.” Fox and fellow collaborators hope to provide the world with a technology that can physically separate anode-arisings and cathode-arisings in shredded end-of-life LiBs with over 99% efficiency. 

Fenix is waiting for its Willenhall plant to receive its permit from the Environment Agency, after which, full-scale operations can begin concerning the recycling of alkaline batteries. In the same news release, Commercial and Business Development Director at Fenix Battery Recycling, Damian Lambkin, commented: “Our Willenhall plant has been ready to open its doors since October 2020, so we look forward to receiving the permit very soon.” Lambkin added: “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.”