Roadmap for a sustainable circular economy in lithium-ion and future battery technologies

Gavin D.J. Harper*, Emma Kendrick*, Paul A. Anderson, Wojciech Mrozik, Paul Christensen, Simon Lambert, David Greenwood, Prodip K. Das, Mohamed Ahmeid, Zoran Milojevic, Wenjia Du, Dan J.L. Brett, Paul R. Shearing, Alireza Rastegarpanah, Rustam Stolkin, Roberto Sommerville, Anton Zorin, Jessica L. Durham, Andrew P. Abbott, Dana ThompsonNigel D. Browning, B. Layla Mehdi, Mounib Bahri, Felipe Schanider-Tontini, D. Nicholls, Christin Stallmeister, Bernd Friedrich, Marcus Sommerfeld, Laura L. Driscoll, Abbey Jarvis, Emily C. Giles, Peter R. Slater, Virginia Echavarri-Bravo, Giovanni Maddalena, Louise E. Horsfall, Linda Gaines, Qiang Dai, Shiva J. Jethwa, Albert L. Lipson, Gary A. Leeke, Thomas Cowell, Joseph Gresle Farthing, Greta Mariani, Amy Smith, Zubera Iqbal, Rabeeh Golmohammadzadeh, Luke Sweeney, Vannessa Goodship, Zheng Li, Jacqueline Edge, Laura Lander, Viet Tien Nguyen, Robert J.R. Elliot, Oliver Heidrich, Margaret Slattery, Daniel Reed, Jyoti Ahuja, Aleksandra Cavoski, Robert Lee, Elizabeth Driscoll, Jen Baker, Peter Littlewood, Iain Styles, Sampriti Mahanty, Frank Boons

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


The market dynamics, and their impact on a future circular economy for lithium-ion batteries (LIB), are presented in this roadmap, with safety as an integral consideration throughout the life cycle. At the point of end-of-life (EOL), there is a range of potential options—remanufacturing, reuse and recycling. Diagnostics play a significant role in evaluating the state-of-health and condition of batteries, and improvements to diagnostic techniques are evaluated. At present, manual disassembly dominates EOL disposal, however, given the volumes of future batteries that are to be anticipated, automated approaches to the dismantling of EOL battery packs will be key. The first stage in recycling after the removal of the cells is the initial cell-breaking or opening step. Approaches to this are reviewed, contrasting shredding and cell disassembly as two alternative approaches. Design for recycling is one approach that could assist in easier disassembly of cells, and new approaches to cell design that could enable the circular economy of LIBs are reviewed. After disassembly, subsequent separation of the black mass is performed before further concentration of components. There are a plethora of alternative approaches for recovering materials; this roadmap sets out the future directions for a range of approaches including pyrometallurgy, hydrometallurgy, short-loop, direct, and the biological recovery of LIB materials. Furthermore, anode, lithium, electrolyte, binder and plastics recovery are considered in order to maximise the proportion of materials recovered, minimise waste and point the way towards zero-waste recycling. The life-cycle implications of a circular economy are discussed considering the overall system of LIB recycling, and also directly investigating the different recycling methods. The legal and regulatory perspectives are also considered. Finally, with a view to the future, approaches for next-generation battery chemistries and recycling are evaluated, identifying gaps for research. This review takes the form of a series of short reviews, with each section written independently by a diverse international authorship of experts on the topic. Collectively, these reviews form a comprehensive picture of the current state of the art in LIB recycling, and how these technologies are expected to develop in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Article number021501
JournalJPhys Energy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 20 Feb 2023


  • batteries
  • circular economy
  • legislation
  • lithium-ion
  • recycling
  • sustainability


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