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Circularity of Electric Vehicle Batteries ALP website article



Circularity of Electric Vehicle Batteries: from Materials and Manufacturing to Recycling

Four-part training series for the Leadership Group for Clean Transport in Asia

The Global Climate Action Partnership (GCAP) Asia regional platform, the Asia LEDS Partnership (ALP), established a Leadership Group for Clean Transport in Asia (LG-CTA) in 2021 as a collaborative effort towards clean and sustainable transportation in the region. The Leadership Group is a membership-based group of policy and technical leads, who are supported with multilateral activities (e.g. capacity building workshops, technical trainings, peer learning, and study tours) on topics identified and prioritized by member countries. Outcomes of Leadership Group activities are progress on the design and implementation of policies and projects to achieve clean and sustainable transportation. 

The GCAP ALP launched a four-phase training program that addresses key topics for EV batteries, in response to LG-CTA member countries communicating strong interests in multiple aspects of and a need for capacity building related to EV batteries. The phases of the EV Battery Training Series address key concepts and technical and policy aspects, including EV battery lifetime, recycling and reuse, standards, and supply chain issues. The series also uses multiple formats to engage country representatives and encourage knowledge sharing, including virtual technical training, in-person peer-learning and a study tour (Figure 1). The phased structure allows for integrated knowledge and capacity building around linked topics within EV battery circularity.


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Figure 1. The phased structure of the EV Battery Training Series, which allows for integrated knowledge and capacity building across key sub-topics of EV batteries using multiple formats.

As part of phase 1, GCAP ALP organized online training on EV battery circularity principles: technical trainings on tools, on May 31 and June 7, 2023. 

The training series is designed to achieve key objectives:

  • Enable policy makers and practitioners to design and implement policies and projects for expanded EV battery use, including capacity across the circular economy of EV batteries
  • Improve technical and regulatory knowledge of practitioners on multiple aspects of EV batteries
  • Improve capacity of countries to provide for a trained workforce
  • Establish a cohort for shared knowledge building on EV battery charging
  • Design a training program structure that can be adapted for future training programs on other priority topics

Phase I Technical Trainings

Phase I virtual technical trainings presented key concepts and two tools from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to understand and evaluate aspects of EV battery circularity: 1) EV Battery Circularity – Supply Chains and Manufacturing, and 2) EV Battery Lifetime – Performance and Secondary Use, which will be described in greater detail below. Trainings were led by GCAP members at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), joined by Implementing Partners (IPs) SLOCAT (Sustainable Partnership for Low-Carbon Transport) and the Asia LEDS Partnership (ALP), and with NREL subject matter experts presenting on key concepts and NREL tools. Representatives from nine LG-CTA countries registered to attend Phase I technical training (Figure 2), with 45 total registrants from LG-CTA countries and international organizations. 

Figure 2. LG-CTA countries registered to attend Phase I technical training. 

Training 1: EV Battery Circularity – Supply Chains and Manufacturing

The first technical training of the series presented key concepts related to EV circularity and supply chains, and an NREL tool to evaluate manufacturing and supply chain dynamics. An overview of global challenges and opportunities related to EV battery circularity was provided by Maggie Mann, Mobility Infrastructure and Impacts Analysis Group Manager at NREL. The global demand for lithium-ion batteries is expected to increase for multiple modes of transport, in addition to other applications including stationary storage, requiring stable supply chains for lithium, cobalt, and nickel. Applying a high-level framework developed at NREL, understanding the lithium-ion battery supply chain involves market size, manufacturing capacity, raw and recycled materials availability, as well as trade flows, and risks and opportunities. Further, understanding and achieving resiliency extends beyond the materials supply chain to international policy, TEA and market factors, environmental life cycle assessment, the circular economy, and equity and workforce dimensions. Given resource limitations and the global nature of supply chains, recycling in combination with national policies and regional cooperation are critical for achieving a robust EV battery supply chain.

NREL subject matter expert Dustin Weigl, Mobility Research Analyst, presented an NREL-developed systems-dynamics model, the Lithium-Ion Battery Resources Assessment Model (LIBRA), as a tool to characterize the complete circular economy for EV batteries, including manufacturing, recycling, and reuse under different conditions (Figure 3). The LIBRA model assesses multiple factors to understand the conditions which will support a resilient and profitable lithium-ion battery supply chain:

  • Resource costs 
  • Changes in battery chemistry
  • Industry growth
  • Battery lifetimes, market sizes
  • Collection and transport
  • Secondary/reuse market
  • Recycling and remanufacturing
  • Pyro and hydro recycling
  • Safe disposal and minimization  

Figure 8. Lithium-Ion Battery Resource Assessment Model (LIBRA) developed at NREL ( to evaluate the circular economy of EV batteries.

This approach can further examine specific questions, including how battery recycling can impact the EV battery industry, and how countries can cooperate to improve the supply chain. The model can also project EV battery sales, evaluate the relationship between recycling and the demand for key minerals, and has further found that the recycling of manufacturing scrap can accelerate the recycling industry. 

LG-CTA country representatives expressed an interest in adapting the LIBRA model as a regional-specific tool. Additional key questions and interests expressed by representatives from Bhutan, Lao PDR, and SLOCAT included:

  • Understanding the challenges of battery recycling
  • Understanding the reuse limitations for lithium – is it possible reuse lithium indefinitely
  • Understanding the battery lifetime and lifecycle to reduce carbon footprint of cars
  • Understanding model parameters, such as assumptions for charging and vehicle range, to better understand the demand for critical components
  • Critical to use limited resources in shared vehicles (buses, shared e-bikes), with less emphasis for private cars
  • How to translate mineral demand sourcing for net job creation (for policy makers)

Training 2: EV Battery Lifetime – Performance and Secondary Use

The second technical training of the series presented key concepts and an NREL tool related to EV battery lifetime, performance, and secondary use. An overview of NREL’s lithium-ion recycling efforts was presented by Matthew Keyser, the Electrochemical Energy Storage Group Manager at NREL. The recycling of lithium-ion batteries supports lower costs for batteries, along decreased adverse environmental impacts, and increases energy security. NREL’s ReCell Center works towards advancing recycling efforts through research around direct cathode recycling to enable supply chain stability, energy independence and security, reduce energy and mineral consumption, and reduce EV battery costs. To achieve those goals, ReCell focuses on the direct recycling of materials, intermediate recycling processes, sustainability design, and modeling and analysis. This approach has produced technical insights and advancements in areas such as black mass purification, redox-mediated and electrochemical relithiation for end-of-life cathodes, and additional and innovative recycling processes. Research findings show that EV batteries can be reused for storage and other applications, with the lifetime for secondary applications lasting up to ten years.

NREL subject matter expert Paul Gasper, a Scientist in Battery Performance and Lifetime Modeling, presented key concepts about EV battery life, as well as the NREL-developed Battery Lifetime Analysis and Simulation Tool Suite (BLAST), EV batteries are subject to degradation which impacts both performance and safety. Lifetime is impacted by factors such as climate and application, with faster degradation in hotter climates. The BLAST tool provides for a way to predict battery lifetime and performance, as well as understand battery reliability for secondary use applications. 

LG-CTA country representatives conveyed additional questions and interests, including:

  • Understanding how to improve the lifetime and efficiency of EV batteries
  • Further understanding the hazards related to EV batteries
  • Further understanding why EV batteries need to be replaced, and how they can be used in secondary applications
  • Seeking to understand how to design regulations for the importation of used EV batteries
  • Seeking to understand what other countries have EV battery regulations, and how they are designed

These questions and interests indicate the development of national and regional standards for EV batteries is likely a high priority area for further support

Next steps: 

In Phase 2, SLOCAT took the lead in organizing a gathering during the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) held in Goa, India in July 2023. This in-person event focused on facilitating peer learning and knowledge sharing. It coincided with G20 events held in India in the same month and featured prominent regional speakers.

Moving on to Phase 3, the ALP is orchestrating an in-person forum that encompasses training sessions and discussions centered around EV batteries, in addition to other related topics. This phase also includes a study tour to visit an EV battery manufacturing or recycling facility.

These activities are designed with a core focus on assisting countries in advancing their existing policies or projects related to EV batteries and in generating new initiatives, all contributing to the realization of sustainable transportation