The CoLaBats initiative works in provide new industrial processes for the recycling of the critical metals Cobalt and Lanthanides and key economic metals Nickel and Lithium, from waste batteries, significantly improving recycling efficiencies and metal purity from existing recovery routes. Tecnalia will operate the pilots in an industrial setting at battery recycling plants and demonstrated to the wider recycling and battery communities.
Primarily Li-ion and NiMH will be targeted using novel task specific ionic liquids (TSILs) to selectively extract the metals. These batteries are found in everyday consumer products such as mobile phones, portable media players, etc., as well as other industrial equipment, and are prevalent in hybrid and electric vehicles, which are becoming increasingly widespread on our roads.
Various TSILs will be considered which are low-cost, non-toxic, environmentally benign, and require minimal or no processing to reuse them. The battery recycling processes will be up-scaled to a pilot system using standard hydrometallurgical equipment and will include other novel concepts to further improve the process. The pilots will be operated in an industrial setting at battery recycling plants and demonstrated to the wider recycling and battery communities.
The technology will result in:
- Substantially reducing landfill waste by recovering recyclable metals of high purity
- Reducing critical metal consumption by increasing recycling efficiencies of spent battery waste. Hence, high purity recovered metals can be recycled into new batteries rather than landfilling or in the case of nickel, processed into lower value stainless steel.
- Substantially reducing environmental impact by introducing more sustainable hydrometallurgical processing to replace current standard pyrometallurgical processes. This will reduce energy consumption and emissions of CO2 and other pollutants.
- Increasing the capability of the SME community to carry out the complete recycling process, thereby taking advantage of the potential value chain of critical and high value metals markets.