Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2020NJ024B

Assessment of Spent Lithium-ion Batteries on Surface Water Quality: Delineating Baseline Level Changes of Lithium, Cobalt and Lithium Hexafluorophosphate

Institute: New Jersey
Year Established: 2020 Start Date: 2020-02-23 End Date: 2021-02-21
Total Federal Funds: $5,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $10,874

Principal Investigators: Le-qi Lin

Abstract: The global lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) market size was valued at USD 37.4 billion in 2018 (970,000 ton), advancing at a 16.2% CAGR during the forecast period to USD 92.2 billion by 2024. LIBs contain potentially toxic materials such as cobalt (Co), lithium (Li), nickel (Ni), iron (Fe), aluminum (Al) and copper (Cu), organic binders (polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF)) and electrolytes (Lithium hexafluorophosphate (LiPF6). Dust, fumes and wastewater are generated during LIB production, and improper handling and disposal can result in the release of toxic substances, which can contaminate our water system, soil, and affect the biota. However, there has been a lack of investigation into the impact on soil, surface water and rivers near landfills or LIB factories due to the absence of regulations for LIB disposal the past 30 years. This project will evaluate the water contamination near battery factories and landfills to support sustainable development. First, we will analyze the concentrations of Li, Co and LiPF6 in river water samples from Sparkill Brook as well as drainage water and top soil near three landfills in New Jersey, which represents old (30 years), middle (20 years) and young (10 years) ages of landfills. Second, we will analyze surrounding soil samples and effluent water samples from a local LIB factory in New Jersey. Lastly, we will collect samples upstream of the Sparkill Brook river to determine the background levels. Ultimately, we aim to elucidate the dynamic changes of the environmental concentrations of Li, Co and LiPF6 compared to the background groups of historical data and provide insight into the potential pollution from the exponential increase of LIB applications.