£500k funding for lithium-ion battery recycling process

Impact Solutions has revealed that it has realised the proof-of-concept of a process that will involve the selective recovery of finite metals from used lithium-ion batteries.

‘Low-impact’ solvents will be implemented to carry out the CellMine process, which Impact Solutions claims will dissolve metals using a low energy input ‘due to the low process temperatures required’. This is in contrast with the energy-intensity of existing hydrometallurgical and pyrometallurgical battery recycling procedures.

The recovery of cathode materials is already being carried out by the company, with Impact Solutions obtaining metals at a purity of at least 99.5 per cent from samples of black mass procured from a mixed-feedstock of lithium-ion battery waste.

Innovate UK has allocated £500,000 in funding to scale up the project, after an initial £100,000 investment from the Ecosurety Exploration Fund saw the company transform the practice from theory to proof-of-concept over a period of 10 months. The following step, which will take place over the next 18 months, will see research expanded in order to achieve the recovery of ‘all target materials from black mass’, including cobalt, nickel, and lithium. Studies will also be carried out to explore the potential for reusing solvents, especially within the context of commercial application were the process to be successfully scaled up to a pilot plant.