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UK backs mobile recycling trucks

Plans for a mobile battery recycling system have been boosted by investment of nearly £2 million (EUR 2.2 million) from the UK Government’s innovation agency.

Recyclus, in partnership with the University of Birmingham, will design and build a prototype system for a mobile recycling truck capable of handling the range of full Li-ion battery modules. The main unit will be designed to accept batteries on an individual basis or in batches and will implement a new industry standard.

The innovative trucks will be based on Recyclus’ existing technology for industrial-scale battery recycling which is capable of safely dealing with more than the five types of Li-ion battery chemistry in any combination. Recyclus plans to operate the trucks in three size options ranging from 7.5 to 16 tonnes which will be capable of processing between 0.5 and two tonnes of Li-ion batteries per hour. The University’s Advanced Materials & Processing Laboratory will provide 3D printing techniques, incorporating additive manufacturing for the required cutting tools.

The whole system will be sealed and emission free with a gated infeed chamber and a series of sealed outfeed chutes which feeds separated materials into collection containers. The system will reduce Li-ion batteries to five recyclable products:

  • Black mass (containing lithium, manganese, cobalt and nickel)
  • Electrolyte
  • Ferrous (steel)
  • Non-ferrous (aluminium & copper)
  • Light mixed fraction (plastic, rubber & paper)

According to analysis from McKinsey, global demand for Li-ion batteries could grow 30% annually from 700 GWh in 2022 to around 4 700 GWh by 2030.

Recyclus is 48.25% owned by Technology Minerals (TM), the first listed UK company focused on creating a sustainable circular economy for battery metals, announced the funding from Innovate UK.

‘The build-up of end-of-life Li-ion batteries over the coming years will create a battery waste tsunami that we need to prepare for by investing in the capabilities and capacity for large-scale battery recycling,’ says TM chairman Robin Brundle.

‘The Recyclus mobile unit takes the recycling solution to the problem and will provide a reliable, cost-effective and automated process for safe and environmentally friendly recycling of Li-ion batteries across the UK. This innovative mobile battery recycling system will implement a new industry standard that can benefit not just the UK, but around the world.’

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