With manufacturing ramping up year by year and policies already looking to get ahead of the large volumes of end-of-life products, the landscape for lithium-ion battery recycling is rapidly changing. pv magazine recently spoke with Mari Lundström, associate professor of chemical and metallurgical engineering at Aalto University, to find out what is needed on the research side for the effective recycling of batteries.
Scientists in Germany have developed a new process for deposition of silicon dioxide layers during cell production. Without the need for high pressure, flammable gases, or vacuum conditions, the process could lead to cost reductions for cell manufacturers, provided it can be developed and applied in a large-scale production setting.
Scientists investigating the aging mechanisms affecting today’s lithium-ion batteries observed that the loss of lithium over time is one of the main causes of performance loss. With this in mind, they developed and tested a “relithiation” process that promises to eliminate much of the cost and complexity from recycling battery components and materials.
Scientists in Russia introduce a promising new material for battery energy storage, the product of more than three years of research. Incorporating a nickel-salen polymer into the cathode, the group demonstrated a battery that can charge and discharge ten times faster than today’s lithium-ion batteries. And though the battery still lags in terms of overall capacity, the group is confident that its discovery will lead to big improvements for lithium batteries.
Suppliers of encapsulant materials – plastic sheets that are heated to laminate together the components in PV module stacks – are rapidly expanding to keep pace with module manufacturing in Asia and other parts of the world. Ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) continues to dominate the market, but new developments in module technology are driving a slow shift to more costly polyolefins.
Scientists in China and the United States investigated the inner workings of aluminum-ion batteries. With new insights into mechanisms at work within the battery during cycling, the group was able to demonstrate a battery capable of ultrafast charging, with the highest capacity so far reported for an aluminum battery.
In various forms, quantum dot technology has attracted plenty of attention among PV researchers recently. And as efficiencies have crept past the 15% mark, the community is beginning to look at other factors limiting the viability of quantum dot solar cells in a commercial setting. Scientists in Germany examined the degradation mechanisms affecting different quantum dot materials; and suggest a standardization of stability testing to enable comparability of results.
A group of scientists in Bangladesh has developed a model to determine the optimal cleaning schedule for a PV installation at any location in the globe, requiring only the average insolation and soiling rate for a given site to make the calculation. The study also draws new conclusions regarding the influence of sandstorms and rain on soiling, and aims to be among the first studies to paint a global picture of soiling trends by region.
Slowly but surely, environmental concerns are making their way into mainstream thought throughout the PV industry. A look at recycling offers an example of this, with stakeholders trying to get ahead of the high volumes of end-of-life modules already on the horizon. pv magazine examines the technologies that will be needed, alongside policy and economic support, to keep the bulk of these modules out of landfill and ultimately to establish a circular economy for PV materials.