SK Innovation announced that the Argonne National Laboratory had verified its battery metal recycling technology’s environmental friendliness. The Argonne National Laboratory is a multidisciplinary research center operated by the US Department of Energy. Moreover, the US research institute used the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) evaluation to test SK Innovation technology’s scope and performance. The LCA evaluated the SK Innovation tech’s environmental impact from its production, including raw material consumption and waste discharge.
Battery Metal Recycling Technology
According to SK Innovation, its battery metal recycling tech obtains material from discarded lithium-ion batteries instead of directly extracting material from nature. For this reason, the Argonne National Laboratory confirmed that SK Innovation’s technology significantly minimizes greenhouse gas emissions.
Specifically, the Argonne National Laboratory noted that SK Innovation’s battery metal recycling tech reduces greenhouse gases during lithium manufacturing by 74% and anode manufacturing by 47%. This reduction is significantly higher compared to greenhouse gases from lithium lake and mining production.
Appropriate Handling of Battery Waste
Since the global electric vehicle industry continues to grow, it considerably increased issues regarding proper and sustainable battery waste handling. Due to the rising waste issues, companies have started to develop better used-up EV battery recycling methods. Accordingly, SK Innovation’s new development could effectively solve battery waste management issues, helping both the environment and material cost stabilization.
Commonly, existing battery recycling methods first extract other metals such as nickel, cobalt, and manganese, before retrieving lithium. This metal recycling technology significantly reduces lithium’s purity and produces low recovery rates. However, SK Innovation’s technology extracts lithium first and secondarily recovers other metals, maintaining lithium’s purity and high quality. Currently, the leading South Korean energy company is preparing for the technology’s commercialization.
“By verifying the environmental friendliness of this technology through an internationally-recognized US national research institute, we expect future collaborations with EV manufacturers regarding the recycling of discarded batteries around the world,” said SK Innovation. As Lee Sung-Joon stated, SK Innovation Environment Science Technology Center’s Director, the battery-recycling tech enables compatibility with worldwide environmental regulations.
Last year, SK Innovation partnered with Hyundai Motor Group to develop an EV battery recycling system. In the collaboration, the two companies would strengthen battery supply chain stability and optimize EV battery reuse and recycling solutions.
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