RWTH to Design Pilot Plant for Recycling 25,000 Tons of Batteries




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German-Swedish collaboration to research sustainable battery recycling processes.


The requirements for energy sources with high specific voltages and charging cycles have strongly advanced the development of lithium-ion batteries in mobile applications. The increasing use of these batteries, however, also leads to an increased amount of waste. Utilizing the resources contained in the spent cells is, therefore, indispensable for securing the supply of raw materials in the future. The increasing demand for lithium by leading European high-tech countries in combination with the alarming lack of available metals makes the development of recycling processes a must. Then secondary resources can be tapped, also leading to greater independence from imports.

Within the framework of the Central Innovation Programme for SMEs, the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy, together with Vinnova from Sweden, is funding the LIBERO research project at RWTH Aachen University. The German-Swedish consortium, each with two partners from industry and research, is working together to create a robust, flexible, and waste-free process for battery recycling. The aim is to recover all the valuable metals and components contained in used Li-ion batteries. RWTH is implementing the project "Near-zero waste Hydrometallurgy for spent Li-ion batteries - multi-element recovery for maximized recycling efficiency" at the Institute for Metallurgical Process Technology and Metal Recycling under the direction of Professor Bernd Friedrich. The total cost of this research project amounts to around 920,000 euros. Partners include Accurec Recycling GmbH, Chalmers University of Technology, and MEAB Metallextraktion AB.

The aim is to offer a solution to the battery market's recycling problem by enabling multi-component recycling and by increasing the recycling-capacity of lithium-ion batteries to the ton range. The process allows for the recovery of battery components such as lithium, graphite, and electrolytes, thus increasing recycling efficiency. The focus of the project is the development of a container-based, modular plant concept. At its conclusion, the research project plans to offer a design for a pilot plant that can treat 25,000 tons of electric vehicle batteries and other consumer batteries.

Source: Press and Communications