KIT develops process for 70 percent lithium battery recycling

A research team at the German research institute KIT (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology) has developed a recycling process that can recover up to 70 percent of the lithium contained in batteries without using corrosive chemicals, high temperatures, or prior sorting of materials. The method »enables inexpensive, energy-efficient, and environmentally compatible recycling of any type of lithium-ion batteries«, according to a release. The KIT Institute for Applied Materials - Energy Storage Systems (IAM-ESS) as well as the Helmholtz Institute Ulm for Electrochemical Energy Storage (HIU), founded by KIT and the University of Ulm, and the energy supplier EnBW Energie Baden-Württemberg AG were involved.
The battery waste is ground and then used with aluminum in a mechanochemical reaction that takes place at ambient temperature and pressure, thus requiring little energy. Metallic composites with water-soluble lithium compounds are produced. The reducing agent aluminum is already contained in the cathode of the batteries, so it does not have to be added separately. The compounds obtained are dissolved in water, which is then removed by heating (evaporation). In addition to the low energy input, another advantage of the process is »its simplicity, which will facilitate use on an industrial scale.« The method is described in a paper in »Nature Communications Chemistry.«

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