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About the Lithium Battery Industry and Lithium Battery Recycling

Lithium Battery Recycling Methods

In the field of power batteries, there are two main methods of recycling: cascading utilization and dismantling recycling.

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(1) Cascading Utilization

This refers to the process of taking retired batteries with relatively high residual capacity, subjecting them to appropriate repairs, standardized treatment, and then redeploying them in various battery applications, such as energy storage (for grid frequency regulation, peak shaving, renewable energy storage, telecommunications tower base stations, etc.), as well as in low-speed electric vehicle applications.

(2) Dismantling Recycling

Dismantling recycling involves the centralized collection of retired power batteries and using a series of technological processes to extract metals like nickel, cobalt, manganese, copper, aluminum, and lithium.

These extracted materials are then recycled for the manufacturing of power battery packs for new energy vehicles.

However, cascading utilization faces various limitations, including safety concerns, inadequate market regulations, the impact of unhealthy competition, and the absence of industry standards. It is anticipated that dismantling recycling, with more mature technology, will become the predominant method in the medium to long term.

In the dismantling recycling process, pyrometallurgy and hydrometallurgy are the main processes used for the purification and regeneration of battery-grade materials.

This stage presents significant technological and scale barriers but also yields higher economic benefits. Leading companies need to address supply stability issues in the front-end battery recovery channels and proactively expand their capacity in the materials recycling sector to realize greater commercial value.

From a business model perspective, third-party recycling models and battery manufacturers’ recycling models have already seen successful practical experience.

While the establishment of recycling networks and the creation of a closed-loop for reuse become critical success factors.

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Challenges in Lithium Battery Recycling

One of the primary challenges in the field of power battery recycling is the market mechanism. Recycling companies need to address these challenges, increase their scale, and break through profit bottlenecks.

(1) Area of Cascading Utilization

Most projects in this area are currently in the pilot phase, with few large-scale enterprises participating in pilot projects.

The market has not yet been standardized and is fraught with many irregularities. Companies find themselves in competition with small-scale, informal operations, making it challenging to achieve rapid, large-scale development.

Urgent measures are needed to improve the policy framework and establish industry standards.

(2) Area of Dismantling Recycling

The primary challenge lies in the fragmentation and disarray of the front-end battery collection channels, resulting in high costs and supply instability.

This makes it difficult to achieve large-scale production of raw materials in the backend and obtain substantial economic returns.

Hence, there is a need for a stable supply of discarded batteries.

Independent recycling companies possess a technological advantage in the recycling process, while battery manufacturers and automotive companies have distribution advantages.

In the current electric vehicle battery recycling market, the key to a successful business model lies in establishing a collection network and creating an ecological closed-loop for material reuse.

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