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Future vision: extracting more cobalt and nickel from li-ion batteries

Researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign claim a new electrochemical process could revolutionise lithium-ion battery recycling.

The innovation relies on a selective electrodeposition method to recover valuable metals from battery electrodes, says Professor Xiao Su, who oversees the project. The chemical and bio-molecular engineering specialist explains that this technology yields purities of 96.4% and 94.1% for cobalt and nickel, respectively, from spent nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC) electrodes.

Su and his team conducted several tests in which they combined the electrolyte-polymer method with dismantled, leached and liquefied components of fully discharged NMC battery electrodes.

By adjusting the concentrations of the electrolyte and the thickness of the polymer coating, researchers noted that distinct deposits of cobalt and nickel accumulated on the electrodes through electrodeposition.

The US university points out that an initial economic analysis of the breakthrough suggests that it is competitive with existing lithium-ion battery recycling methods.

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