I have just returned from attending NAATBatt’s annual conference in Palm Springs last week. While there I hosted and moderated a panel session on battery life cycle issues. I was introduced by Bob Galyen of CATL and joined on the panel by Joe Acker of Retriev, Dirk Spiers of Spiers New Technologies and Steve Sloop of OnTo Technology. The session started with a presentation I gave summarizing AquaMetals’ alternative to lead smelting for lead acid battery recycling. Next up was Joe who shared his experience of 3 decades in battery recycling. Dirk followed with his experience in refurbishing Li-ion battery packs for re-use in electric vehicles. Last up was Steve Sloop who outlined his pioneering work in recovering useable electrode materials from spent Li-ion battery packs.
Importantly, this was the first time that NAATBatt had dedicated a full session to battery recycling. One of the themes that evolved was lead acid recycling is almost 100% while Li-ion remains at the R&D stage. One of the important and painful lessons of the lead industry is that poorly executed and unregulated recycling can have significant impacts on customer perception and increased regulation—an issue that AquaMetals is providing answers for. Earlier in the week, NAATBatt held a special session focused entirely on the high level of Li-ion fires in Chinese e-Bus fleets and the resultant withdrawal of funding and support. This issue was re-iterated in this session in recognition that safe de-construction and effective disposal of Li-ion battery materials following warehouse fires in the US and UK involving stored scrap Li-ion batteries.