New system for battery recycling makes way for 70% lithium recovery

May 13, 2023 | Metallurgical Lab

In yet another breakthrough in energy conservation, researchers from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany developed a recycling mechanism that offers 70% recovery of lithium in battery waste without the aid or use of corrosive chemicals and high temperatures.

The method combines mechanical processes with chemical reactions to recover materials from any type of lithium-ion battery. They utilized aluminum as a reducing agent in a mechanochemical reaction.

Olesandr Dolotko, the first author of the publication, said in a media statement, “[The method] enables inexpensive, energy-efficient, and environmentally compatible recycling.”

Such a system follows the process:

  1. Grinding of the Battery Waste

  2. Battery waste reacts with aluminum to metallic composites via water-soluble lithium compounds.

  3. Lithium recovery happens by dissolving them in water and subsequent heating to make water evaporate.

Dolotko and his team say that the advantage of the new method is its simplicity which will allow to facilitate large amounts of batteries to be recycled in the future, especially, on the industrial scale.

In a separate report, the United States Department of Energy continues to advance battery recycling technology and has funded Argonne Laboratory with 3.5 million USD to expand commercial-scale and domestic production of battery materials. The target is said to reach 8 million tons of EV batteries to be available for recycling by 2040. Such will allow the United States to reduce emissions by as much as 166 million tons a year while maintaining a domestic source for battery materials.

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