WPI Engineering Professor lauded for breakthrough lithium battery recycling technology
New England Council Member, Worcester Polytechnical Institute (WPI) celebrated the research of Dr. Yan Wang at the Bayh-Dole Coalition’s “Faces of American Innovation” briefing on Wednesday, September 13.
Since his early days as a professor of mechanical engineering, Wang was convinced that lithium-ion batteries would play a foundational role in the electrification of technology infrastructure and that eventually, these batteries would die. Furthermore, he was concerned that their production was primarily based on a single supply chain from China, not to mention the extreme environmental cost of extracting the constituent minerals.
Despite heavy skepticism from his peers, Wang’s lab work dispelled their doubts and proved it was possible to disassemble and reconstruct battery components to produce new and improved batteries. Not only do the recycled batteries capture 98% of the critical metals used in the original, but they also charge two to three times faster and last longer than the old battery. Overall, the recycling process costs half as much and emits up to 90% less carbon than the manufacturing of new batteries. In 2015, Wang co-founded Ascend Elements to patent and commercialize his discovery.
“Initially not many people believed in me,” said Wang at Wednesday’s briefing. “But still I believed in what I’m doing. I believed eventually – one day that recycling would make a big, positive impact for the field, for the industry, for the people. That’s why I won’t give up.”
The New England Council commends Dr. Wang and WPI for this innovative research.
Read more on the WPI website.