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The cathodes in the lithium-ion batteries typically used in electric vehicles are made of metal oxides that contain cobalt, a metal found in finite supplies and concentrated in one of the globe's more precarious countries.
But an assistant professor at UC San Diego says he has developed a way to recycle used cathodes from spent lithium-ion batteries and restore to perform as well as they did when new.
"Yes, it can work effectively," said Zheng Chen, a 31-year-old who works as a nanoengineer at the Sustainable Power and Energy Center at UC San Diego's Jacobs School of Engineering.
The method also works on lithium cobalt oxide, which is widely used in electronic devices such as smartphones and laptops.
"In my house I have about six cellphones," Chen said. "I have probably about five laptops. They all have lithium batteries. I thought, there is no clear system to recycle and retrieve them. From a battery researcher [standpoint] I know this is something we have to face, we have to solve."
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