3Q 2018

Novel Recycling Strategies Expand the Value Proposition of Advanced Batteries

The process of recycling traditional lead-acid batteries has matured over the past 20 years, but the decommissioning of newer advanced battery systems is not yet well understood. However, due to the growth in demand for grid-scale and EV battery storage, advanced battery stakeholders are increasingly concerned about mitigating the life cycle impact of these systems. Efforts are underway to better understand the recycling process and lower the costs and impacts involved. While second-life use has been a viable option for some in the battery industry, the economical and environmentally friendly recycling of advanced battery systems would benefit all stakeholders. System owners would see a significant increase in profit margins and a decrease in their environmental footprint.

Since early markets for advanced batteries opened around 2010, the industry is now seeing its first major wave of retired advanced battery assets. Stakeholders continue to debate whether the benefits of recycling primary batteries (alkaline, lead-acid, etc.) present a better environmental and economic case compared to simple disposal. Arguments vary according to battery type and recycling method. In the past, advanced battery OEMs, vendors, end users, and even legacy battery recycling companies did not consider retirements in their business models. Although there are also debates on how to best mitigate spent battery assets, recycling is an opportunity for advanced battery stakeholders to integrate responsible, profitable business practices into their go-to-market strategies.

This Guidehouse Insights report examines key recycling methods and strategies for major advanced battery technologies that are commercially available for transportation and grid storage. These methods are classified by their traditional specifications, reported shortcomings, and future roadmap for improvement. Guidehouse Insights outlines the primary battery system components for advanced batteries and how they should be considered when recycling. The study also explores competing end-of-life strategies and provides recommendations on incorporating recycling procedures in the supply chain for governments, manufacturers, and business owners. 
Pages 19
Tables | Charts | Figures 2
  • What are the top recycling methods for the major electrochemical advanced battery types?
  • What are the key metrics used to evaluate the ideal end-of-life use case in the advanced battery industry?
  • Which system components must be considered when recycling advanced batteries?
  • What are the alternative end-of-life use cases for spent advanced battery assets?
  • How do adjacent battery markets (e.g., EVs and consumer electronics) affect business strategy in the advanced battery market?
  • What should government, manufacturers, and integrators do to ensure the success of their recycling strategies?
  • Advanced battery manufacturers
  • Advanced battery recycling companies
  • Stationary energy storage customers
  • Energy storage technology vendors
  • Energy storage software providers
  • Systems integrators
  • Electric utilities
  • Investor community




Advanced Batteries Are Performing Exceedingly Well in Major Industries

Impetus for New End-of-Life Use Cases for Advanced Batteries

Vehicle Electrification Leading the Advanced Battery Charge

Stationary Energy Storage Emerging as the Norm for Grid Modernization

Understanding Advanced Battery Components Is Paramount to Developing a Recycling Strategy

Electrochemical Advanced Batteries Bear the Greatest Opportunity for Recycling

Li-Ion Batteries

Flow Batteries

Advanced Lead-Acid Batteries

Sodium Batteries

Recycling the Entire System Unlocks Benefits across the Board

Advanced Battery OEMs Must Push to Refine Recycling Processes as More Assets Retire

Pyrometallurgical Recycling (Smelting)

Intermediate Recycling Process

Direct Recycling

Recycling by System Component


Battery Cells

Power Conversion System

BMS/System Controls

Thermal Management/Fire Suppression System

Mindful Separation Strategies and Alternative Revenue Streams Are Critical to Advanced Battery Profitability

Recommissioning Advanced Batteries as Second-Life Assets

Roles Must Be Clearly Defined throughout the Advanced Battery End-Of-Life Value Chain

Distribution of Accountability

Advanced Battery OEMs Must Hire and Train Skilled Labor

Developing Procedures Reduces Overhead

Promoting Advanced Battery Recycling Depends on Battery OEMs, Project Developers, and Third-Party Stakeholders

Advanced Battery OEMs Must Incorporate Recycling Procedures in Their Supply Chain to Maximize Value
  • End-of-Life Recycling Rates by Chemical Element
  • Advanced Battery Materials Recycling Process  
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