Lithium-Ion Batteries have become increasingly popular with many of the electronics we use today. The technology of these batteries has improved over time to create powerful and longer-lasting products. The batteries have the ability to recharge and are lighter than other batteries because they are made with lithium and carbon.
The materials to make these powerful batteries can be very expensive and are mostly outsourced. The dependence on other countries to provide this technology is not sustainable if political, economic, or environmental disruptions should occur. On January 17, 2019, the U.S. Department of Energy announced, “the launch of a Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize and the establishment of an associated Battery Recycling R&D Center”. The Department will invest millions of dollars into companies developing innovative solutions that will create an efficient Battery Recycling process within the U.S. The initiative aims to keep materials circulating within the U.S. to lower costs and gain independent control over the market, making it more reliable.
These companies will be awarded for creating efficiently safe ways for the U.S. to maintain the lithium-ion battery materials. According to the U.S. Department of Energy,“lithium-ion batteries are collected and recycled at a rate less than 5%”. Collecting, storing, and transporting the batteries can be very dangerous if not handled properly. If they are dropped or short-circuit, they can release dangerous amounts of heat and may ignite. Special regulations apply when shipping these batteries in any capacity to, from, and within the United States (49 CFR 173). New efforts to maintain these materials safely within the U.S. will focus on cost-effective recycling processes and boost economic growth.
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