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Improving lithium-ion battery recycling
Emmanuel Billy, a research scientist at Liten, a CEA Tech institute, has developed an award-winning* process for recycling lithium-ion batteries that dissolves and separates the batteries' critical materials like cobalt, nickel, manganese, and lithium with 40% less effluents, 35% fewer steps, and 40% less reagent.
A variety of methods for observing the chemical and electrochemical changes and surface states during the reaction process were used to break down and understand—for the first time ever—the mechanisms at play. These new insights enabled the development of a new treatment process using reaction intermediates to ensure the proper functioning and yields of the subsequent steps. In addition, the process also makes it possible to simultaneously dissolve and separate substances.
The process, protected by several patents, has the capacity to reduce the environmental impact of lithium-ion batteries; the improved recycling yields also respond to regulatory requirements. Finally, the process also helps reduce dependency on critical elements like cobalt and mitigates geopolitical-related supply risk.
*2018 French Federation of Recycling Companies (FEDEREC) Recycling Innovation Award in the Innovation in Academic Research category.
CEA is a French government-funded technological research organisation in four main areas: low-carbon energies, defense and security, information technologies and health technologies. A prominent player in the European Research Area, it is involved in setting up collaborative projects with many partners around the world.