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Metal recovery from batteries for sustainable transportation

metal recovery

Following the increase of the demand for EVs, metals used in electrodes to produce lithium batteries (LiBs) are critical for supporting a sustainable and long-term supply chain in transportation. With respect to the battery technology available today, Li batteries are the most used in EVs due to their superior energy density and voltage. Although new and more sustainable batteries are in development, metals used for Li battery materials are critical and limited to certain parts of the world. Therefore, the rising demand for Li-batteries translates to a growing need for materials such as Li, Co, Mn, and Ni depending on the type of battery. In a simplified way, there are mainly two processes employed for metals recovery, pyrometallurgy and hydrometallurgy pathways.

 

metal recovery

However, the recycling methods mentioned often have challenges in terms of the amount of energy used, environmental impact with the release of greenhouse gases and hazardous solid/liquid waste and other solvents implemented to separate and further concentrate the ions recovered. For this reason, together with the urgent need to recover those necessary metals from spent batteries, novel and more sustainable recycling technologies are explored and investigated by both research groups in Sweden and in the USA. Given the Future Mobility program opportunity, Chalmers Industriteknik (CIT) and Chalmers have initiated a new collaboration with NREL /National Renewable Energy Laboratory) in the USA. Both research groups have long experience in metal recovery from spent batteries using different methodologies and invested in LiBs recycling technologies for sustainable transportation.

 

 

The group at Chalmers has an extensive experience in the recovery of metals and is at the forefront in Sweden in relation to effective and selective metals recycling from spent batteries. It has collaborations with important Swedish and international actors. At the same time, the newly established collaboration with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) funded by the US government and the Department of Energy is a great opportunity not only to expand the bilateral collaboration but also to transfer some of the know-how from and to the USA. As largely reported, the US also represents an important market when it comes to EVs sales, battery technology and recycling methodologies.

 

Project manager: Blerina Gjoka, Chalmers Industriteknik

Parties: Chalmers Industriteknik, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Chalmers University of Technology

Period: 2024 to 2025

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