Recycling important when talking about the end life of

Recycling lithium-Ion batteries

Recycling is the activity or process of
extracting and reusing useful substances found in waste. It is very important
due to the fact that using the process of recycling:

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·       
the usage of raw materials can be substantially
reduced

·       
reduce energy usage

·       
reduce air pollution

·       
reduce landfill pollution

Recycling
is very important when talking about the end life of a battery because they are
expensive to make, and recycling them efficiently means lower construction
costs and a lower material dependency. Also, the chemical compounds found in
the batteries can be very dangerous. On one hand, these chemical compounds in
day to day situations can combust and cause lots of damage, or release
poisonous gasses dangerous to any living being They are well secured and
constructed under strict regulations, but when they reach their end life, they
must be decommissioned properly. On the other hand, in high concentrations they
can be hard pollutants to the environment.

Lithium-ion
batteries are mostly harmless but packs that reached their end-life cycle
should be disposed properly. Regarding Li-Ion batteries, the recycling isn’t
profitable but regulations impose strict disposal conditions especially
regarding the fact that they contain toxic substances. Regulations have become
stricter due to the rapid growing volume of Li-ion batteries.

 

Recycling process

Recycling
starts by sorting batteries into chemistries. Collection centers place lead
acid, nickel-cadmium, nickel-metal-hydride and lithium ion into designated
drums, sacks or boxes. Battery recyclers claim that recycling can be made
profitable if a steady stream of batteries, sorted by chemistry, is made
available.
The combustible
material is removed, such as plastics and insulation, with a gas-fired thermal
oxidizer. The polluting particles resulted from the process are then taken by
the plant system and filtered, leaving clean cells with metal content. The
cells are then chopped and melted resulting a metal liquid. The non-metallic
substances are burned at high temperatures resulting into a black slag, which
will later be removed.

Some of the
institutions that do the recycling process don not separate the metals on site,
but heat them till a liquid state is achieved and for industrial blocks
referred as “pigs” ( 65 pounds, 24 kg), “hogs” (2000 pounds, 746 kg) or
“nuggets” (7 pounds, 3.71 kg). The pigs, hogs and
nuggets are shipped to metal recovery plants where they are used to produce
nickel, chromium and iron for stainless steel and other high-end products.

 At
the moment, recycling li-ion batteries isn’t profitable compared to mining new
materials. Studies show that it is needed from 6 to 10 times more energy to
retrieve the used materials rather than mining new ones. Some places have
created a system where each battery is sorted based on the type of combinations
it’s used. Basically, they use a adaptable system that changes the parameters
regarding each type of battery and then recycling them into metal blocks
related to each technology.

Each
country sets its own rules and adds tariffs to the purchase price of a new
battery to make recycling feasible. At the moment, the recycling of a ton of
batteries has a cost range of 1000$-2000$. Europe hopes to reduce these costs
down to just 300$, including transportation. To do this, Europe is setting up
small processing plants into strategic geographic regions1

 

 

 

 

For
a better understanding of the complexity regarding the recycling logic pattern
an example of the process will be applied to a traction battery as it can be
seen bellow:

                                                                                                                   

a)     Battery
systems ->

b)    Battery
cells ->

c)     electrodes
->

d)    Current
collector + Active material

 

Composition of a traction battery:

a)    
Battery system level:

 

Battery system components

Recycling Process type

Materials resulted

50-70% Battery
cells

Further treatment

 

15-45% Casing

Smelting

Steel, aluminum

2-6% Wiring

Separation ->
Smelting

Copper, plastic

2-3% Electronics,
PCB

Separation

Iron, copper,
aluminum

residual 0-3%
Cooling tubes, casing parts

Granulation

Plastic
 

0-3% Bus bars

Separation

Copper, Plastic

1-2% Screws, metal
parts

Reuse, re-melt

Iron
 

Rubber, tape, etc,

 

waste

                       

 

 

 

b)    Battery cell
level:

 

Battery cell level

Recycling Process type

Materials resulted

ca. 65% Electrodes
 

Further treatment
 

 

10-15% Steel /
Aluminum casing
 

Smelting
 

Aluminum, steel
 

10-20% Electrolyte
 

Recovery
 

Valuable solvents,
electrolytic salt
 

2 – 5% Further
parts
 

Smelting
 

Steel, copper,
aluminum
 

ca. 3%
Separator/Foils
 

Incineration
 

Steel, copper, aluminum

 

 

c)   
Electrodes

Electrode level

Recycling Process type

Materials resulted

15% Copper foil
 

Briquetting->
Smelting
 

 
 

8% Aluminum foil
 

Briquetting ->
Smelting
 

 
 

31% Anode coating
 

Hydrometallurgy
 

Lithium, organic
residues
 

46% Cathode coating
 

Hydrometallurgy
 

Lithium,
Ni/Co/Mn-solution
 

1
Batteryuniversity.com. (2018). . online Available at:
http://batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/recycling_batteries Accessed 4 Jan.
2018.