Princeton NuEnergy is wasting no time putting to use a $7 million seed round funding it closed last month. On June 27, the clean-tech startup that was spun out from Princeton University announced three technological breakthroughs, all with pending patent applications.
According to the Bordentown company, which focuses on the regeneration of lithium-ion battery material, the technologies are in the areas of safe discharge, cathode-to-cathode upcycling, and anode-to-anode recycling and upcycling of aged LIBs.
“I have been overwhelmingly impressed by our R&D team’s commitment to the circular economy in developing three transformative lithium-ion battery recycling solutions. Now it is just a matter of scaling the processes to meet fast-rising demand,” Xiaofang Yang, Princeton NuEnergy co-founder and chief technology officer of PNE, said in a statement.
According to the company, all of these technologies are leveraged on Princeton NuEnergy’s patented LPAS (low-temperature plasma-assisted separation) technology.
A summary of the technologies:
Discharge Approach Innovation
All end-of-use LIBs need to be fully discharged before recycling to avoid hazards such as fires or explosions. Princeton NuEnergy scientists have developed an advanced discharge method to cut costs and increase safety and processing efficiency — all while incorporating environmentally friendly chemicals.
Cathode-to-Cathode Upcycling Innovation
The company, citing BloombergNEF, said, “[M]ore than half of a LIB’s final cost comes from the purchase of mined virgin cathode materials, draining scarce metals, releasing greenhouse gases, and increasing supply chain risk. Hence, consistent, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly methods of regenerating cathode materials will become increasingly integrated into the LIB supply chain in the coming years.” The company’s cathode-to-cathode upcycling solution aims to achieve a higher yield at a much lower energy use and lower costs than traditional approaches. The method, according to Princeton NuEnergy, is also “significantly less energy intensive” than traditional methods.
Anode-to-Anode Recycling and Upcycling Innovation
Silicon-graphite composite materials are expected to replace graphite anodes in commercial LIBs. In order to avoid abandoning or incinerating this spent graphite, Princeton NuEnergy has created an energy-efficient, cost-cutting and environmentally friendly method of recycling and upcycling this material into low-cost, high-performance silicon-graphite composites.