Over the years, our reliance on lithium-ion batteries to power everyday devices has increased dramatically. For a long time, researchers have warned us about two things: one is that there is only so much lithium -- and other metals used in electronics -- on the planet and the other is that when a rechargeable battery reaches the end of its life, if not disposed of properly, those materials will become a threat to human health and the environment.
Those issues have led to scientists to look for solutions. Many breakthroughs have been made in extending the life of rechargeable batteries, which helps reduce the amount of metals that need to be mined and the frequency with which they get thrown away. Now, there just needs to be a better way to recycle the batteries at the end of their life that protects people and the environment and recovers those precious metals so that they can be reused.