Large-scale recycling of lithium-ion cathode materials moved a step closer to market readiness when two North American firms agreed on a testing program.
US metals firm American Manganese aims to commercialise its proprietary hydrometallurgical process for the recycling of cathode materials of multiple chemistries.
Canadian critical metal firm American Manganese Inc plans to scale up its process for recycling spent lithium-ion batteries to a commercial size.
AMI’s proprietary hydrometallurgical process produces raw materials from used cathode materials for use in new lithium-ion batteries, says the firm.
However, whether the process can be scaled up and made to be financially viable at an industrial scale remains a moot point— the technology for the large scale recycling of cathode materials of multiple chemistries does not exist yet.
Equally unclear is where the testing program will be carried out (possibly Kemetco’s laboratory in Richmond) and where funding will come from— AMI aims to target government research grants and strategic alliances.
The first step in AMI’s plans is to partner with fellow British Columbia firm Kemetco Research Inc. (a extractive metallurgy R&D company) to demonstrate the process on a bench scale.
The materials from cathodes contain lithium imbedded in a base metal oxide matrix and represents the largest single materials cost in the manufacture of lithium-ion cells (up to 30% of the materials cost of a cell).
The company says its process is applicable to multiple lithium-ion battery chemistries including lithium cobalt, lithium nickel manganese cobalt and lithium manganese.