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Finnish tech offers greater efficiency for battery producers and recyclers

Worker installing an electric vehicle battery at a production hub in Vietnam.

Finnish technology provider Sensmet has developed a solution to improve the efficiency of producing lithium for batteries while enhancing black mass recycling. 

Sensmet’s automated online measurement enables the optimal dosing of chemicals during lithium production, which improves revenue and reduces costs. Battery metal manufacturers typically rely on batch sampling and laboratory analysis to control their processes. But this can be costly and labour intensive and typically takes four to ten hours. 

In contrast, Sensmet’s Micro-Discharge Optical Emission Spectroscopy (µDOES) measures multiple metals, such as any battery metal and their impurities, in real time. This innovative approach can also be used at the end-of-life stage to recover battery metals more efficiently.

Firstly, µDOES creates a small electric spark in the diluted sample which causes a microscopic volume of the fluid to be heated to 10 000°C. Molecules are thereby broken down into atoms, which are excited to higher electronic states. 

Then, when returning to their normal state, these atoms release energy by emitting light at their characteristic wavelengths. µDOES measures this atomic emission spectrum to analyse the metals in the sample.

Results from the µDOES analyser are displayed immediately, showing the concentrations and trends for each metal. Data is also transferred digitally to users’ management systems, enabling crucial real time process control.

Finnish battery producer Keliber ran a pilot programme in 2022 to evaluate the µDOES analyser  during lithium production. A total of 80 samples is said to have demonstrated ‘excellent’ results.

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