Lithium ion battery bioleaching optimization

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bar graph of bioleaching cobalt from cathode of lithium ion battery
Biolixiviant (spent supernatant) from Gluconobacter oxydans was applied to lithium ion battery cathode powder at 1.5% pulp density for 24 hours, at 30ºC for the standard condition. Each subsequent bar denotes a change from the standard condition for the variable noted: time, temperature or pulp density. Fe(II) was added to each sample as a reducing agent for improved cobalt recovery. Cobalt percent recovery values were determined by X-ray fluorescence (XRF).

CMI scientists at Idaho National Laboratory conducted this research.

Processing parameters of bioleaching time, temperature and pulp density on Co recovery from lithium ion battery cathode powder were optimized. Optimal conditions were found for temperatures between 20-70°C and incubation times >18 hours. Increasing pulp density (solid mass : liquid mass) from 1.5% to 3% and 6% led to 35% and 65% reduction in leaching efficiency, respectively.

Significance and Impact:
The results provide guidance for starting conditions for future scale-up research


  • Apply optimized conditions to simulated heap-leaching process
  • Test mixed lithium ion battery waste materials