Introduction to Recycling of Lithium Batteries

When the adoption of electric vehicles grows, so does the amount of used Lithium Ion Batteries which formerly propelled such machines. This recent rise in the electric vehicle industry is required to meet global goals for lowering greenhouse gas emissions, improving air quality in these areas, and meeting the demands of the customers among whom electric vehicles are becoming extremely prevalent. As they age, lithium ion batteries lose their capacity while retaining dependable efficiency and internal resistance. Usually, 18650, 26650, 32650 and, coin cells are recycled after their first use.

Battery systems in an EV must be recycled whenever an electric vehicle is taken off the streets following an accident, issue with the battery system, or aging of batteries. The efficiency of batteries deteriorates when they are charged and discharged. Degradation of battery system means that less storage energy is used to power the motor and the other systems in the vehicle that is vehicle would not be able to run as fast as it used to on a single charge. After the significant end of life of batteries, after active use in a vehicle involve recycling or refurbishing, recovering of materials, and disposal.

THREE STAGES OF BATTERY RECYCLING

During the process of recycling batteries undergo high temperature melting and extraction.

  1. Pretreatment: In this stage, the key processes are mechanical shredding and processing of plastic filler and non-ferrous compounds. Allowing rapid disassembly of the battery system into essential elements, automation technology may play a key role in making this pretreatment stage more reliable and cost effective.
  2. Secondary treatment: This is the separation stage. A chemical agent is used to separate the cathode from the aluminum collector foil. Battery materials separation can result in more pure and valuable materials being retrieved.
  3. In the last stage the cathode materials from secondary treatment are dissolved using either Pyro metallurgy or Hydrometallurgy

The demand for Pyro metallurgy or the process of smelting is used to recycle lithium batteries in few major industries. Extreme temperatures around 1500 C are used in these industries to melt the impurities and retrieve materials like cobalt, nickel, and copper. In most cases, Aluminium and Lithium are lost in these processes, resulting in slag as a waste product. Secondary methods may be used to extract these materials from the slag.

The battery cathode, which includes the highest margin of minerals, draws the bulk of recycling analysis and attention. The composition of metallic elements in the battery cathode has an impact on properties such as energy efficiency, power density, life cycle, and cost and battery protection. Recycling of cathode materials may offer a cost effective and ultimately environmentally beneficial option to manufacturing them from new materials.

Lithium Batteries are made up of a limited amount of critical minerals that can be recycled and reused to produce new batteries, which reduces production costs. Whether batteries are reused or not, recycling and resource recycling would be needed at some point. The demand for new raw materials is minimized, the battery’s life cycle risk is reduced, and also electricity generation is strengthened by lowering imports.

 Materials obtained from recycled lithium ion batteries may be a valuable and environmentally sustainable source of new battery materials in the future. Due to the great demand for lithium batteries and battery components is undergoing an exponential growth and recycling is expected to play a major role.

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