Sustainable management of lithium-ion batteries

Cascaded use and sustainable management of lithium-ion batteries in mobility and stationary power Research

Funding generously provided by:

Mitsui & Co. (Canada) Ltd. | Panacis Inc.

with a Collaborative Research & Development grant from NSERC, Government of Canada.

Meet the research team:

Professor Steven B. Young

Professor Michael Fowler, Chemical Engineering

Professor Roydon Fraser, Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering

Leila Ahmadi, MASc student, Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering


Widespread use of high performance lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries in electric and hybrid vehicles has begun and will grow exponentially over the next two decades. To maximize environmental benefits and business value, batteries and the advanced materials they contain will likely be used in a cascade of 'multiple life-cycles', specifically three major phases: first, in electric vehicles (EV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) for efficient clean electric mobility; second, in stationary applications where batteries are re-purposed for uses like back-up power and load-leveling; and third, strategic metals and complex battery chemicals will be recycled and reprocessed in closed material loops to find additional beneficial applications.

This project brings together approaches from environmental science and industrial ecology with chemical and mechanical engineering. The research will enhance our understanding through integrated life cycle management models and tools for Li-ion battery systems in light duty vehicles on three research pathways:

  • Task 1: Life cycle assessment model and environmental impact analysis
  • Task 2: State-of-health of Li-ion systems in vehicles and for reuse
  • Task 3. Cascaded use analysis of Li-ion systems

It is envisioned that a new industry of Li-ion battery management companies will emerge to maintain and service batteries in electric vehicles, to operate remanufacturing facilities that repurpose used vehicle batteries, and to recycle integrated recovery of lithium and other valuable materials. Thus, a cascade of uses for Li-ion systems will emerge that optimize technical efficiencies, minimize negative environmental impacts, maximize value for both producers and consumers of the services provided.

Canada is well-positioned to address these problems specifically and to develop Li-ion systems for replication worldwide. Our country has established industries and expertise in automotive, energy, metallurgy and mineral processing, and information technology. These are key platforms for a new industry of Li-ion battery services and technologies.

Key words:

Life cycle management, sustainability assessment, lithium ion batteries, electric vehicles, battery reuse and repurposing, critical materials