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Resurgence Startup ExPost Awarded $8M from DOE in Bid to Improve Battery Recycling

The startup’s patent-pending process removes impurities from recycled lithium battery materials.

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Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, University of Chicago

ExPost Technology, a participant in Cohort 1 of Resurgence, has been awarded $8 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to support development of an advanced mobile machinery system for pre-processing consumer electronics and batteries.

The startup’s patent-pending process, Purification-Regeneration Integrated Materials Engineering (PRIME), removes impurities from recycled lithium battery materials to enable reuse. The DOE grant will help support development of the first step in preprocessing batteries in a way that there is no fire hazard or leaking of toxic materials.

The funding will enable ExPost to expand its team and make connections with different companies in order to set up the system at recycling centers as the startup looks to scale the technology.

“With this grant, we aim to demonstrate improved recycling techniques that really tackle the high-cost issue and don’t trigger extra environmental concerns,” said Zheng Chen, cofounder of ExPost and professor of nanoengineering at the University of California San Diego (UCSD), where the team first met.

ExPost CTO Weikang Li previously worked as a post-doc in the lab of Shirley Meng, who was the Zable Endowed Chair Professor in Energy Technologies at UCSD before her current role as a professor of molecular engineering at the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering. Meng’s research group, the Laboratory for Energy Storage and Conversion, will support the R&D work for battery electrolyte handling and extraction, providing scientific support to the project through a subaward.

Specifically, Meng will guide postdocs and students in performing hands-on work to validate and improve the battery recycling process, improving safety and environmental friendliness. 

To design a better recycling process requires expertise in battery design, but also in chemicals and materials, noted Li speaking to the collective knowledge of the ExPost team. In addition to UCSD and UChicago, the startup also benefits from collaborations with Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Akron. Other partners include Underwriter Laboratories and Carbon Critical.

The award is part of a $125 million funding program to increase consumer participation in battery recycling programs, improve the economics of consumer battery recycling and help establish collection programs. The Federal Consortium for Advanced Batteries (FCAB) National Blueprint for Lithium Batteries has set a goal of achieving 90% recycling of consumer content by 2030.

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