Lithium Australia develops battery recovery process

Lithium Australia has developed a process that recovers metals from spent lithium-ion batteries (LIB), with nickel and cobalt recoveries estimated at 90 per cent.

Lithium Australia Managing Director Adrian Griffin said establishing a supply stream from recycled batteries would help facilitate lithium-ion sustainability, and reduce the number of batteries sent to landfill.

“Lithium Australia’s ability to recover and refine the lithium in spent LIBs puts it in a unique position, since few current commercial recycling processes do this, rather, the
lithium is generally discharged to flue gas or slag during smelting processes,” Mr Griffin said.

“Lithium Australia’s process is based on lower heat inputs and retention of the lithium, which is recovered hydrometallurgically.”

Mr Griffin said recoveries of roughly 85 per cent had also been achieved in test work with the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation.

According to a Lithium Australia statement, the company aim to produce high-purity lithium phosphate as a precursor for the production of cathode materials.

“This will be accomplished using the company’s proprietary lithium phosphate refining process,” the statement reads.

“Commercial investigation by Lithium Australia also found the potential to develop a nickel/cobalt concentrate as an alternate feed source for conventional refining.”

Mr Griffin said successfully recovering a precursor of high purity for the production of new LIBs, from material otherwise destined for landfill, is a huge step forwards for the battery industry.

“Lithium Australia, together with its partner Envirostream Australia, is investigating the commercial potential of this breakthrough,” Mr Griffin said.

Right now we’re in discussion with consumers of lithium, nickel and cobalt – both within Australia and overseas – and we see huge potential for a local battery recycling industry.”

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