This project will improve and scale-up patented hydrothermal direct recycling processes for lithium-ion batteries with different cathode chemistries. The project will target advancements in: 1) efficient and accelerated sorting, separation, and de-energization strategies; 2) high rates (kg/day) of cathode/anode separation; 3) low temperature cathode regeneration; and 4) up-cycling of recovered materials into new battery cells. The project will complete life cycle analysis and technoeconomic analysis using tools from Argonne National Laboratory to evaluate environmental benefits and revenue potential for different cathode chemistries and recycling process configurations.
The project aims to achieve operational costs of less than $5/kg of cobalt-containing cathodes and less than $2/kg for non-metal cathodes and anodes, which is at least a 10x reduction compared to market prices of cathodes made from mined materials.
The core innovation is the low temperature hydrothermal cathode re-lithiation process, which the applicant has patented and currently operates at lab scale (~10-100 grams/day) with the project goal to scale this to kg/day steady state operations. Project partner Smartville will evaluate innovative collection, sorting, and dis-charging approaches. The low temperature process requires less energy than established and competing technologies. The proposal is targeting recovery yield of at least 95% of cathode and anode materials with at least 99% purity and 99% capacity retention compared to cells made from mined materials.