By successfully recovering battery metals, lithium in particular, from spent LIBs, Lithium Australia NL continues to provide a sustainable solution to a major recycling challenge – that of batteries being consigned to landfill – and pave the way for the re-birthing of cathode materials.
Envirostream– 14.29 per cent LIT-owned – shreds LIBs and separates the components for reuse in the battery and other industries. One of the products generated during that shredding process is mixed metal dust (MMD), derived largely from the battery electrodes.
Envirostream has supplied the Company with MMD for recycling technology development studies to recover the lithium in particular, but also cobalt, nickel and copper. Most commercial recycling processes do not recover lithium.
LIT’s commercial objective is to produce refined LP from spent LIBs and use it directly in the production of new LFP cathode material.
Other battery metals, including nickel and cobalt, have also been recovered in the process as a concentrate suitable as a feed for conventional refining processes.
Lithium recovered from the MMD in the form of LP was subsequently refined for use as a precursor in the production of LFP cathode powder. That was achieved via the Company's proprietary LP precipitation and refining technology, developed in collaboration with Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO).
The refined LP produced by LIT at ANSTO is the first batch to originate from recycled battery material. It will be converted to LFP at the Company’s 100 per cent-owned VSPC cathode powder pilot plant, located in Brisbane, Australia. This LFP will used to make coin cells for performance testing of the cathode materials.
Lithium Australia Managing Director, Adrian Griffin said that currently, few recycling operations around the world can recover lithium from LIBs.
“LIT’s process has the potential to not only improve the sustainability of LIBs but also ease future supply constraints that may prove problematic to the industry,” said Mr Griffin.
“The Company's ability to employ LP in the direct generation of LFP is a significant technical achievement, one that reduces the number of process steps required to manufacture the cathode powder. That's great news, because LFP is the perfect battery configuration for energy-storage systems suitable for the harsh Australian environment.”