Lithium-ion battery recycling firm founded at Princeton University celebrates research partnership at Bordentown facility

Princeton NuEnergy, a lithium-ion battery recycling company founded at Princeton
University in 2019 and based at the Rutgers Ecocomplex in Bordentown, celebrated new research partnerships Wednesday with several scientists at the company’s Bordentown facility.

The company specializes in recycling, repurposing, and commercializing lithium-ion battery materials from electric vehicles, consumer electronics, manufacturing scrap materials, and energy storage batteries.

Founded by Princeton University research scientist Chao Yan, Princeton University Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering Bruce Koel, and former Brookhaven National Lab researcher Xiaofang Yang, the company has developed a patented technology for the recycling of lithium-ion batteries that successfully reclaims high-value materials that are suitable for recycling. The “direct recycling low-temperature plasma-assisted separation process” reduces costs, environmental waste, and CO2 emissions, while yielding higher critical material recovery rates and material performance, according to the company.

Princeton NuEnergy is partnering with scientists from Argonne National Lab, National Renewable Energy Lab, Oak Ridge National Lab, and the University of California Irvine to improve the efficiency of its technology.

The company received a $12 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Efficiency and Renewable Energy to advance its recycling and upcycling technology. The grant aims to help reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign materials and enhance domestic manufacturing capabilities.

“We are excited to show how we can leverage this technology for the United States’ lithium-ion battery supply chain,” Xiaofang Yang said in a written statement.

After spinning out from Princeton University research, Princeton NuEnergy received $250,000 from the federal Small Business Innovation Research Phase I Fund to support early research and development. Two years later, the company was awarded an additional $1.15 million from the Small Business Innovation Research Phase II fund to support further research. In May 2022, the company closed a $7 million seed funding round led by Wistron Corporation, and will soon close a Series A funding round.

The EcoComplex in Bordentown is where the team will collaborate and work on the technology. A public relations firm representative said the actual recycling will be done at a new facility. The location has yet to be finalized, but will likely be nearby, she said. A 500-ton production line in McKinney, Texas, recycles consumer batteries, lithium-ion battery manufacturing scrap, and spent electric vehicle cell batteries.

Rutgers Ecocomplex photo opp for new partnership announcement.
Princeton NuEnergy CEO Chao Yan (l) chats with Congressman Andy Kim (r) on Wednesday at the Rutgers EcoComplex in Bordentown.