shredded electronic waste

Electrochemical leaching of cobalt and lithium from nickel-rich battery sources

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To recycle batteries, CMI created a way that consumes electricity instead of chemicals to transform crushed batteries to a concentrated mixture well suited to separation into materials for new batteries. This method is flexible, and efficient. It can be used with different types of batteries, and pulls out more than 97 percent of the lithium, cobalt, copper, manganese, iron and nickel.

This CMI-funded research is part of a project based at Idaho National Laboratory with input and supplies from CMI Team Members Retriev Technologies and Solvay, and supplies from American Zinc Recycling. 

Achievement:

Demonstrate the flexibility of the electrochemical leaching process, to different feedstocks. High Ni content shredded battery feedstock was obtained from American Zinc Recycling (AZR). High leaching efficiencies of 97.82% and 99.66% where achieved for cobalt and lithium, respectively.

A comprehensive co-recovery process, with different value streams, such as graphite, copper, and steel scrap was developed

Significance and Impact:

  • Cobalt, lithium and graphite can be recovered from shredded lithium ion batteries with low pre-processing requirements
  • Can recover several revenue streams (steel, copper, graphite and critical material) 
  • Electrochemical leaching process is flexible to different battery chemistries, including those with low cobalt content

Details and Next Steps:

Investigate how the downstream separation flowsheet can be modified for high nickel content leachate

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The recycling process that CMI developed is very efficient in pulling metals of interest from shredded batteries.