LIBRA: Lithium-Ion Battery Resource Assessment Model

LIBRA logo

The Lithium-Ion Battery Resource Assessment (LIBRA) model evaluates the economic viability of lithium-ion (li-ion) battery manufacturing, reuse, and recycling industries, highlighting global and regional impacts across interlinking supply chains.

Developed at NREL with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, LIBRA allows researchers to conduct dynamic supply chain analyses of li-ion battery manufacturing and recycling industries under differing conditions.

Researchers project that electrification of the transportation and energy storage markets will result in explosive growth in the demand for li-ion batteries. In response to concern over raw material demands, increased emphasis is placed on expanding the li-ion battery recycling capacity. The intersection of different markets, operations, and policies could have unanticipated impacts on electrification efforts.

LIBRA in Action

LIBRA analytically explores the technological and market feedback and feed-forward signals that could affect global supply chains for raw materials, primary and recycled batteries, and electric vehicles. Over the last two years, LIBRA has provided insights regarding issues related to:

  • Investments and research progress necessary to grow the LIB recycling industry
  • Importance of battery chemistry and sorting in the recycling supply chain
  • Specific regional potential of recycling to offset mineral imports
  • Economic and job benefits due to battery manufacturing and recycling.

LIBRA has demonstrated that the growing demand for li-ion batteries presents opportunities for both domestic manufacturing and global partnerships, leading to reduced greenhouse gas emissions and greater use of clean energy.

Circular Economy Characterization

A circular figures illustrates the standard product's pathway from resource extraction to manufacturing, use, and disposal, with indicated opportunities to divert materials back into the cycle through recycling or reuse.

LIBRA allows researchers to evaluate the evolution of the battery markets from both supply and demand perspectives. The model characterizes the entire circular economy for li-ion batteries, including:

  • Cost of resources, e.g., supply and demand of raw materials
  • Changes in battery chemistry
  • Design for circular economy
  • Battery lifetime and market size
  • Collection and transportation of batteries at the end of their useful lives
  • Battery second-life market
  • Manufacturing scrap recycling
  • Direct recycling and remanufacturing
  • Pyrometallurgical and hydrometallurgical recycling
  • Safe disposal.

LIBRA Framework and User Interface

LIBRA operates in a system dynamics framework, which considers the continued evolution of the battery and use markets. The user interface includes 12 screens for background and assumptions, inputs, results, and scenario evaluation. This interface allows users to change selected parameters and quickly see their combined impact on the model outputs. In addition, LIBRA can quickly run different scenarios and compare results for further evaluation.


Dustin Weigl

Researcher III, Decision Support Analysis