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LithoRec – Recycling of Lithium Ion Batteries

Christian Hanisch, Stephan Olliges, Ann-Christin Bartölke

Increasing demand for lithium ion batteries (LIBs) stemming from a growth in the production of electric vehicles (EVs) highlights the need for a materials recovery process which can be used to extract active materials from spent and production reject LIBs. In order to prevent a future shortage of lithium and other valuable raw materials used in LIBs, the development of a recycling process which can be applied to spent LIBs and production rejects becomes crucial.
As an end goal, the active materials recovered from LIBs need to be of sufficiently high quality and purity levels in order to allow for their direct use in new LIBs for automotive applications. Ideally, the developed recycling processes can be designed to render highly concentrated suspensions of active materials, which can be used as reactants in hydrometallurgical processes to recover pure lithium and transition metal (Co, Ni) products.
In project LithoRec collaboration between industry partners and various institutes from TU Braunschweig and WWU Münster resulted in the development of several process routes that allow for the recovery of active materials from LiNi0.33Co0.33Mn0.33O2 (NMC) electrodes. The research conducted at Institute for Particle Technology (iPAT) at TU Braunschweig for Project LithoRec focused on the evaluation of a mechanical and an alternate chemical recycling process for battery cell materials.
The studies conducted at iPAT used basic process engineering principles to mechanically separate the current collector from the particle coating. These studies showed that by varying processing parameters, the coatings were separated from the current collector with a yield of over 95 percent at a purity level which met the quality standards necessary for a direct recoating process and further hydrometallurgical treatments.
In addition to electrochemical characterization, the adhesive strength and crystalline structure of recycled electrodes were analysed and compared to those of reference electrodes made from commercial, non-recycled materials. Laser diffraction spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy and atomic absorption spectroscopy analyses were also conducted to determine particle size distribution within recovered active materials, the crystalline structure of recycled electrodes and the aluminium contamination, respectively.
As a quality check, the aging of recycling electrodes and new-material-electrodes were compared at iPAT. The aging study showed that minor recycling impurities do not affect the electrochemical performance whereas higher impurity levels significantly decrease electrochemical performance.

The project LithoRec was made possible by the funding of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety and the collaboration between industry partners AUDI, Chemetall, Electrocycling, Evonik Litarion, Lars Walch, H.C. Starck, I*ME ACTIA, Recyclex, Süd-Chemie, Volkswagen, as well as six institutes of the TU Braunschweig (NFF, iPAT, IWF, elenia, IKT, AIP) and the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the WWU Münster.
For any further information see www.lithorec.de

The pilot process of the project was realized in an eco-friendly recycling plant for lithium-ion batteries by Duesenfeld GmbH in 2017.

Team Members


Cooperative project: Project results database and communication management for the battery cell production cluster ProZell (EMKoZell) more

BaSS – BatterieSicherheitsStandardisierung more

eKoZell – Environmental and Cost Assessment, Model and Communication Management for the Competence Cluster ProZell – Accompanying Project to the ProZell Cluster (eKoZell) moremore

Cooperative project: Project results database and communication management for the battery cell production cluster ProZell (EMKoZell) more

EVOLi²S – Evaluation of the technical and economic advantages of the open-cell module for lithium-ion and lithium-sulphur batteries with regard to stationary and mobile applications more

Optimal electrode structure and density by design of mixing and calendering procedures (MiKal) more

MultiDis – Multiscale approach for the description of carbon black deagglomeration in the dispersion process for a process and performance-optimized process control more

ÖkoTroP – Ecologically gentle dry coating of battery electrodes with optimized electrode structure more

PräLi – Prelithiation of electrodes more

ProfiStruk – Process and system development for the process integrated inline structuring of Li-electrodes more

Process modeling of the calendering of energy-rich electrodes (ProKal) more

Roll-It more

LiPlanet – Li-ion cell pilot lines network moremore

LoCoTroP – Low cost dry coating of battery electrodes for energy efficient and environmentally friendly production processes more

Sim4Pro- Digitalization Platform – Simulations for battery cell production more

ZiLsicher – Zink-Air-Accumulators as safe electrochemical storage for low emission and explosion proof industrial applications more

Finished Projects
BenchBatt – Process based energy optimization and validation of Lithium-Ion and Lithium-Sulfur battery electrodes more

GEENI – Graduate Program for Energy Storage and Electromobility more

INSIDER – metal free Dual Ion energy storage technology utilizing anionic -intercalation more

Academic Initiative for e-Mobility – Education and Training in the University Network MOBIL4e more

ProLiEMo – Production Research for High-Power Lithium-Ion Batteries for Electro Mobility  mehr

Functional Materials and Material Analysis for High Power Lithium-Ion Batteries more

LithoRec – LithoRec – Recycling of Lithium Ion Batteries mehr