We recently did a large review of our patent database for inventions in lithium-ion battery recycling. It's quite extraordinary. We now list >900 patents. Chinese patents, which used to represent about 70% of the total are now closer to 90% annually. Still not all patents that were filed in 2019 have been published but so far it looks like another record year.
Chinese patents are rarely filed internationally, which illustrates a focus on the domestic market. But that’s a market where 2/3 of all batteries are produced and recycled.
The patents provide great insights in how the field is developing. More sophisticated disassembly and discharging methods, direct recycling and a slight increase in recycling of electrolyte, graphite and LFP cells are some trends.
When Simon Moores at Benchmark Mineral Intelligence testified in the US Senate this week he opened by saying that “Since 2017 China’s battery megafactory pipeline has increased from 9 to 107, of which 53 are now active and in production. Meanwhile, the US has gone from 3 to 9 plants of which still only 3 are active, the same number as just under three years ago”.
In fact, this statement can almost be used for anything relating to batteries right now and recycling is no exception.
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