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ReLiB win prestigious Royal Society of Chemistry Prize

ReLiB have been named winners of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Horizon Prize, which celebrates discoveries and innovations that push the boundaries of science.

 

The team is a multidisciplinary collaboration between the universities of Edinburgh, Leicester, Newcastle, Oxford and Imperial College, and led by the University of Birmingham.

 

The prize was awarded for transformative research and influence leading to the establishment of a technology pipeline for low cost, high-throughput, and low environmental impact lithium-ion battery recycling. The team receive a trophy and a video showcasing their work, and each team member receives a certificate.

 

Since its establishment in 2018, the Faraday Institution-funded ReLiB project has been pioneering in its advocacy and development of efficient and environmentally benign strategies for the recycling of electric vehicle (EV) batteries.

Through numerous publications, news articles and policy documents in the UK and worldwide, ReLiB has influenced research and policy worldwide, promoting new ways to approach the growing challenge of recycling electronic waste.

The ReLiB project focuses on reducing the steps needed to remanufacture end-of-life (EoL) materials into new cells. The team believes that highly efficient recycling methods with exceptional material recovery rates are crucial to preventing significant long-term environmental issues and waste buildup.

Using this approach, the project has fast-tracked the development of low cost technologies for separating layers (delamination), removing unwanted materials (leaching), and reviving usable components (regeneration) – all on an industrial scale. For instance, they have achieved a breakthrough in the ‘upcycling’ of outdated battery materials into higher energy density replacements. They have also developed methods to recover and potentially reuse previously unrecyclable components like the PVDF binder used in most batteries.

Professor Paul Anderson, principal investigator and academic lead at the University of Birmingham’s School of Chemistry, said: “I could not be happier that the RSC has chosen to recognise the outstanding work of the whole ReLiB team with this award and, in particular, our early career researchers whose talent, hard work, dedication and leadership will hold the key to the success of net zero.”

 

Professor Peter Slater, co-investigator, added: “I am delighted that the ReLiB project has received this prize. It recognises the advances that the researchers on the project have made towards developing new methods to improve the sustainability of battery recycling. I feel that this is a great recognition for all the early career researchers who have contributed to cutting edge research that the ReLiB project has been developing.”

 

Dr Helen Pain, Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry, said:

“The chemical sciences cover a rich and diverse collection of disciplines, from fundamental understanding of materials and the living world, to applications in medicine, sustainability, technology and more. By working together across borders and disciplines, chemists are finding solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges.

“Our prize winners come from a vast array of backgrounds, all contributing in different ways to our knowledge-base, and bringing fresh ideas and innovations. We recognise chemical scientists from every career stage and every role type, including those who contribute to the RSC’s work as volunteers. We celebrate winners from both industry and academia, as well as individuals, teams, and the science itself.

“Their passion, dedication and brilliance are an inspiration. I extend my warmest congratulations to them all.”

The Royal Society of Chemistry’s prizes have recognised excellence in the chemical sciences for more than 150 years. This year’s winners join a prestigious list of past winners in the RSC’s prize portfolio, 60 of whom have gone on to win Nobel Prizes for their work, including 2022 Nobel laureate Carolyn Bertozzi and 2019 Nobel laureate John B Goodenough.

The Horizon Prizes highlight exciting, contemporary chemical science at the cutting edge of research and innovation. These prizes are for groups, teams and collaborations of any form or size who are opening up new directions and possibilities in their field, through groundbreaking scientific developments. Other prize categories include those for Research & Innovation, those for Education (announced in November), the Inclusion & Diversity Prize, and Volunteer Recognition Prizes.

For more information about the RSC’s prizes portfolio, visit rsc.li/prizes.

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