Recycling Lithium-ion Batteries

figure from Xu et al. 2020, Joule, vol. 4, p. 2609
Figure from Xu et al. 2020, Joule, vol. 4, p. 2609

Our lives have been changed by lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries which are everywhere: in our cell phones, cars, toys, power tools and grid energy storage. Indeed, the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to the three scientists who invented and developed them.  As the world manufactures more and more Li-ion batteries, what are the challenges and opportunities for recycling them?  How can we prevent the batteries from ending up in landfills where the toxic metals inside can leak out?   In this episode, we talk with Dr. Zheng Chen, a professor of nanoengineering at the University of California, San Diego, and co-author on the paper “Efficient Direct Recycling of Lithium-Ion Battery Cathodes by Targeted Healing” published a few weeks ago in the journal Joule

Hosts: Jill Sjong, Joel Parker
Feature: Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Beth Bennett
Show Producer: Joel Parker
Engineer: Sam Fuqua

Listen to the show:


Monarch Migration // Better Batteries

Monarch caterpillar on milkweed. Courtesy Tom Ranker.

Feature #1: (start time 4:45) As we unpack our coats and boots from storage boxes, so are insects, in their own way, planning for a seasonal change.  Monarch butterflies in our neighborhood, east of the Rockies, fly south to very specific forests high in the mountains of Mexico. Their journey, and life at their destination, is a precarious one.  Dr. Deane Bowers, a professor and curator of entomology at the CU Boulder Museum of Natural History, speaks with co-host Susan Moran about what is happening now with monarchs and other butterflies. And she discusses how the ability of certain insects, such as caterpillars, to defend themselves against predators by making themselves taste disgusting is being affected by human disturbances, such as nitrogen fertilizer runoff. To get involved in monarch conservation, go to Monarch Watch.

Feature #2: (start time 14:30) One of the greatest limitations of effectively using clean and renewable energy sources is a simple device with which we are all undoubtedly familiar — the battery.  Dr. Conrad Stoldt is an associate professor of mechanical engineering at CU Boulder and co-founder of Solid Power, Inc., where he is developing an all-solid-state lithium metal battery. Stoldt talks with co-host Beth Bartel about how batteries work, why batteries are such a stumbling block in the current race to energy solutions, and how his research may just lead to the next big thing.

Hosts: Susan Moran, Beth Bartel
Producer: Susan Moran/Shelley Schlender
Engineer: Jim Pullen
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

Click on audio file below.