Effective recycling of end-of-life Li-ion batteries (LIBs) is essential due to continuous accumulation of battery waste and gradual depletion of battery metal resources. The present closed-loop solutions include destructive conversion to metal compounds, by destroying the entire three-dimensional morphology of the cathode through continuous thermal treatment or harsh wet extraction methods, and direct regeneration by lithium replenishment. Here, we report a solvent- and water-free flash Joule heating (FJH) method combined with magnetic separation to restore fresh cathodes from waste cathodes, followed by solid-state relithiation. The entire process is called flash recycling. This FJH method exhibits the merits of milliseconds of duration and high battery metal recovery yields of ~98%. After FJH, the cathodes reveal intact core structures with hierarchical features, implying the feasibility of their reconstituting into new cathodes. Relithiated cathodes are further used in LIBs, and show good electrochemical performance, comparable to new commercial counterparts. Life-cycle-analysis highlights that flash recycling has higher environmental and economic benefits over traditional cathode recycling processes.
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