24M develops recycling process for its SemiSolid battery platform

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24M Technologies, based in Cambridge, Mass., developed what it calls a low-cost, simple, modular approach to lithium-ion battery manufacturing. Designed around the use of standard lithium-ion supply chain materials, the company announced a direct material recycling method it calls Liforever.

“Better battery recycling is essential for a sustainable energy future, but the use of binders in conventional cell production has made direct recycling impractical,” said 24M CEO Naoki Ota.

Liforever works by keeping the active materials in their original form and does not create a black mass. This is in contrast to recycling methods used for lithium-ion cells that form black mass e-waste as a result of its use of toxic pyrometallurgical and hydrometallurgical recycling processes. This conventional method also damages the structure of the anode and cathode materials and so it is not usually used to recycle more expensive metals such as nickel, manganese and cobalt.

“Liforever solves these challenges by enabling the reuse of nearly every part of the battery cell without requiring the expensive, inefficient and environmentally challenging processes used in conventional cell recycling,” said Ota. “These cost savings are further optimized by our streamlined SemiSolid technology, which eliminates half of the steps used in conventional cell production.”

24M reports that its Liforever method enables recycling of all active materials from the anode (graphite) and cathode (NMC, LFP, NCA, etc.). After recovery, the active materials undergo a low-cost cleaning and, as needed, re-lithiation to reclaim their original capacity.

The Liforever recycling methodology is designed to be compatible with recycling regulations, 24M reports. The fact that the process is chemistry agnostic means that it can support next-generation batteries of all chemistries, according to 24M.

24M Technologies was spun out of A123 Systems in 2010, and then acquired a renowned customer base, including license agreements with Volkswagen Group, Fujifilm Corporation, Kyrocera Corporation, Lucas TVS, Axxiva and FREYR. The last three companies announced plans to to build gigafactories based on 24M’s technology in India, China, Norway and the United States.

The company says it has simplified lithium-ion battery production with a new design that requires fewer materials and fewer steps to manufacture each cell. Its solution is a semi-solid flow battery in which the electrodes are mixed directly into the electrolyte, and as a result of its SemiSolid cell process and chemistry-agnostic platform, it can reduce manufacturing costs by up to 40%. The company says it also reduces the need for more than 80% of the inactive materials in traditional batteries, such as copper and aluminum.

In 2022 24M received a grant from the Department of Energy’s ARPA-E program to develop and scale a high-energy-density battery that uses a lithium metal anode and semi-solid cathode for use in electric aviation.

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