Lithium-ion batteries are essential in powering devices like motorcycle, EV, power tool. When the batteries age, overcharged, and are unable to provide power to devices, they need to undergo recycling.
Recycling centers purchase scrap batteries to facilitate proper disposal. Recycling helps to eliminate environmental pollution. This post covers knowledge about lithium ion battery recycling in details.
1. What happens when a battery is recycled?
There are two main ways for lithium ion battery recycling. One is to recycle lithium battery materials. After various procedures like disassembly and crushing, the raw materials are separated to sell or continue to produce new batteries, and the other is echelon utilization.The recycling process begins with sorting the battery according to type and size.
Then the battery is crushed and important components extracted. Scrap batteries, as well as batteries that are scrapped after cascade utilization, use the combination of physics and pyrometallurgy to preliminarily separate various metals. The pretreated battery powder is smelted into metal salt products.
2. Can a lithium battery be 100% recycled?
Lithium-ion batteries can be 100 % recycled. However, the current lithium ion battery recycling industry chain is not fully mature, and the recovery rate is not reached 100%.
3. The process of recycling lithium ion battery material
After collecting the batteries, the following steps follow;
Discharging the battery pack- Lithium-ion battery is completely discharged to remove residual energy
Removing the modules from the battery casing
Shredding the battery’s modules
Putting the shredded materials in an area rich with nitrogen or vacuum
Separating the electrolyte from the shredded material
Separating metals and plastic parts of the battery.
Extracting valuable metals from the black mass through hydrometallurgy, direct recycling, or pyrometallurgy.
Hydrometallurgy– This method involves extracting valuable metals by dissolving them in an aqueous solution. Lithium metal is then gotten from the solution.
Pyrometallurgy– in this process, valuable metals are extracted by heating black mass using high temperatures.
Sorting recycling– Components of black mass are separated using physical processes without leading to chemical changes.
The process of disassembling the battery is done by high-voltage specialists using insulated tools to prevent short-circuiting. Short-circuiting causes the battery to discharge rapidly. Additionally, the battery should be in an oxygen-free room.
4. What makes it hard to recycle lithium ion batteries?
Lithium ion battery recycling is difficult because the battery’s pack contains different module structures. It is hard to match different cells for reuse. In addition, We should notice the effect of chemical composition when recycling.
Lithium ion battery recycling is important since;
It helps in recovering expensive materials such as Nickel and Cobalt. This reduces the cost of producing new lithium-ion batteries.
It benefits to environmental protection. Although lithium-ion batteries are very environmentally friendly and friendly compared to lead-acid batteries without harmful substances, they still have a slight impact on the environment during the cathode production process. In short, the recycling of waste items is certainly beneficial to the environment.
Lithium ion battery recycling plays an important role in natural resource conservation by reducing virgin material dependency.
A lithium ion battery is active and contains a high-energy content so the recycled lithium battery is of high value.
5. Dos and don’ts during lithium ion batteries recycling
During lithium ion battery recycling, do the following;
Store the lithium ion battery in a cool area- High temperatures reduce the battery’s life cycle if you want to use the battery in step, while moisture causes it to corrode and leak.
Use insulators to prevent it from short-circuiting
Recycle the battery at a facility with a license capable of handling hazardous materials the battery might contain
During lithium ion battery recycling, don’t do the following;
Throw the battery into regular waste
Keep the used lithium-ion battery near flammable materials
Expose the battery to high temperatures
Recycle lithium-ion batteries with other batteries since they require special handling
Disassemble the battery since this maybe dangerous and should be done by professionals.
6. Is lithium ion battery recycling profitable? In what aspect can show the probability?
Lithium ion battery recycling is still profitable. Sometimes the cost of recycling the batteries is currently higher than the value of the recycled material. However, this could change in the future if new recycling technologies are developed.
7. Lead-acid Vs. lithium ion battery recycling
It is easy to recycle lead-acid batteries because of their chemistry. It comprises lead, sulfuric acid, and lead oxide in the battery’s plastic case. Each component is easily recycled. Additionally, lead melts at low temperatures and is easily purified. Besides, if we don’t recycle the lead acid battery, it will do much harm to environment.
Lithium ion battery recycling is relatively difficult since lithium ion batteries consist of many different materials such as nickel, manganese, cobalt, and iron phosphate. The shredding process is energy-intensive and value of valuable metals is also considerable.
8. EV battery recycling
The EV battery recycling takes place on a pack basis. The pack’s glue is broken to reach individual cells.
Collect EV batteries
Sort EV battery based on type, condition, and size
The battery is shredded to produce black mass.
Isolate the valuable elements, including lithium salts, nickel, and cobalt, in the black mass using hydrometallurgy.
Use lithium’s Cyanex 936P reagent to get all valuable metals from used batteries.
9. Does tesla recycle their batteries? Which companies recycle lithium ion batteries?
Yes, Tesla recycles used batteries at its service centers across the world. It recycles all the lithium-ion batteries with high rate, and none goes to waste using a closed-loop process.
Companies that have invested greatly in lithium ion battery recycling include Umicore, which operates in Germany and Belgium. Toxco is another lithium ion battery recycling company located in Ohio and it’s the top recycling company in North America.
10. When is a lithium battery scrapped and needs to be recycled?
A lithium-ion battery is scrapped and recycled when it reaches the end of its useful life. At this stage, the DOD of the battery drops below 80%. These conditions make the battery not to be able to power devices.
A lithium-ion battery is scrapped when;
It discharges quickly- Batteries lose some charge even when not powering a device. If the battery discharges quickly, it needs to be scrapped and recycled.
It begins to overheat.
Voltage drop-The battery begins storing low voltage than its normal voltage.
Swelling- Swelling is a condition where the battery’s casing swells due to overcharging and chemical reactions.
Charging can be completed quickly.
11. Can a used lithium-ion battery be reused and where is it used?
Yes, a lithium-ion battery can be reused after undergoing the process of recycling.
A lithium-ion battery is reused to;
Provide power backup
Energy storage and low-power electric vehicles
In conclusion, lithium ion battery recycling is crucial because it is a profitable emerging industry. The components of the battery that could be disposed into the environment are reused to develop new batteries.
Furthermore, lithium ion battery recycling helps reduce the cost of developing new batteries by reusing expensive metals such as nickel and cobalt and it can also be used in echelon.
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