Factorial looks to bring a circular economy to solid-state batteries by recycling lithium-metal

Solid-state battery developer Factorial Energy has announced a new partnership with South Korean metal refining company, Young Poong, to research and implement lithium-metal recycling into its production practices. Through the investment, Factorial hopes to reuse excess metal materials to create a more circular economy.

Factorial Energy, a solid-state battery developer based in Massachusetts, is producing some interesting technology to support EV applications. It currently operates multiple joint ventures with major names in automotive, including Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai Motor Group, and Stellantis.

The company’s flagship product is its Factorial Electrolyte System Technology (FEST) – its own proprietary spin on leveraging a solid electrolyte material. At CES this past January, Factorial Energy unveiled a prototype of a 100 Amp-hour (Ah) solid-state cell that offers compatibility with existing lithium-ion battery manufacturing equipment – encouraging automakers to transition to advanced battery cells via a more seamless process.

In May, the company announced it had been certified to begin shipping those 100 Ah solid-state cells to automakers to test for themselves before they are integrated into new production EV models.

As Factorial Energy works to scale up solid-state battery production and potentially help revolutionize an already booming EV industry, it is working to optimize its production practices by recycling precious lithium metal left behind during the manufacturing process. To do so, the company has recruited the help of Young Poong to adapt its recycling expertise toward solid-state for the first time.

Factorial, Young Poong try first solid-state recycling project

Earlier today, Factorial Energy announced its latest partnership with Young Poong, in which it will provide the South Korean metal smelting and refining company with lithium-metal material left over from its FEST solid-state battery production process.

From there, Young Poong intends to use the excess lithium material to develop a recycling process that enables reusability through integration into additional solid-state batteries, creating a more circular economy. If successful, the companies say they will have achieved an industry first in bringing sustainable recycling to a blossoming solid-state segment.

This is because the lithium-metal anodes used in Factorial’s solid-state batteries require a different recycling process compared to traditional lithium-ion cells used in current EVs. Factorial cofounder and CTO Alex Yu spoke:

Our core mission to advance sustainable mobility extends beyond EV battery manufacturing. We are deeply invested in advancing technologies that foster a circular economy. Through our partnership with Young Poong, Factorial is poised to shape a future characterized by a resilient supply chain for solid-state batteries, thereby helping to drive the growth and sustainability of the EV industry.

Young Poong describes its current battery recycling technique as the world’s first pyrometallurgy process, boasting that it can recover over 90% of lithium and more than 95% of nickel, cobalt, and copper from used batteries. Through its new partnership with Factorial Energy, the company has vowed to invest in the development of a project to adapt a similar recycling process to solid-state. Per representative of Young Poong’s business division and green metal division, Kang In Lee:

We are pleased to be working with Factorial to advance our research into Lithium-metal recycling for solid-state rechargeable batteries, an industry first. With lithium-metal recycling, we have the opportunity to establish a recycling process well in advance of the future decommissioning of solid-state batteries.

To begin, Factorial will provide Young Poong with excess materials from its current solid-state pilot manufacturing process, but the company has already confirmed Young Poong will be present at its future production facilities as the company tries to scale its FEST cells toward full commercialization.

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