SCI weekly research round-up 17 February

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Weekly research round up 17 February
Weekly research round up 17 February
PhD candidate Usman Aziz, Elvira Uyarra (MIOIR) and Jo Mylan have written an article on how green city regions can deliver policy to meet net zero for Policy@Manchester. You can read the article here.

The UK is making progress to achieve net zero, with the latest findings indicating that UK emissions in 2021 fell below 2019 levels. These efforts, however, are still identified as insufficient for fulfilling the Paris Agreement. To lead the way towards a green and just future, regional and urban areas are developing ambitious strategies to reduce emissions and improve social conditions. Such approaches will likely be required to address the significant environmental, social and economic pressures that have occurred since 2019.

Sampriti Mahanty and Frank Boons contributed to the Roadmap for a sustainable circular economy in lithium-ion and future battery technologies published in the Journal of Physics: Energy. They authored a section of the roadmap which builds a case for integrating responsible innovation in lithium-ion battery recycling. This work is a part of their ongoing project Met4tech where they are creating a roadmap for the circulation of technology metals in the UK. The paper can be accessed here.

The market dynamics, and their impact on a future circular economy for lithium-ion batteries (LIB), are presented in this roadmap, with safety as an integral consideration throughout the life cycle. At the point of end-of-life, there is a range of potential options - remanufacturing, reuse and recycling. Diagnostics play a significant role in evaluating the state of health and condition of batteries, and improvements to diagnostic techniques are evaluated. At present, manual disassembly dominates end-of-life disposal, however, given the volumes of future batteries that are to be anticipated, automated approaches to the dismantling of end-of-life battery packs will be key. The first stage in recycling after the removal of the cells is the initial cell-breaking or opening step. Approaches to this are reviewed, contrasting shredding and cell disassembly as two alternative approaches. Design for recycling is one approach that could assist in easier disassembly of cells, and new approaches to cell design that could enable the circular economy of LIBs are reviewed. After disassembly, subsequent separation of the black mass is performed before further concentration of components. There are a plethora of alternative approaches for recovering materials; this roadmap sets out the future directions for a range of approaches including pyrometallurgy, hydrometallurgy, short-loop, direct, and the biological recovery of LIB materials. Furthermore, anode, lithium, electrolyte, binder and plastics recovery are considered in the range of approaches in order to maximise the proportion of materials recovered, minimise waste and point the way towards zero-waste recycling. The life-cycle implications of a circular economy are discussed considering the overall system of LIB recycling, and also directly investigating the different recycling methods. The legal and regulatory perspectives are also considered. Finally, with a view to the future, approaches for next-generation battery chemistries and recycling are evaluated, identifying gaps for research.

Zarina Ahmad wrote a blog post for ClimateXChange in anticipation of International Day of Women and Girls in Science. In the blog she discusses in a blog how to improve inclusion of women from diverse backgrounds in research and policymaking. You can read the full blog here.

Several years ago, the Scottish Government began a national programme enabling communities to tackle climate change. From 2013, Zarina has been directly involved in setting up over 150 projects run by people of colour and from minority ethnic backgrounds. The projects were of different scales, from a one-off event to seven-year long projects. What she found during that time was that it was mostly women who were running those projects. They were passionate about doing work to tackle climate change, finding solutions and driving change. However, there was a majority of men in senior jobs such as policymaking, where people are more likely to be heard.