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.
Phase 3 of the company’s program to test a prototype coin cell made from reconstituted lithium and cobalt powders is scheduled to begin mid-October.
The company’s hydrometallurgical process has previously been accepted as ‘technically viable’ by an independent third party examiner.
The latest phase of testing comes after American Manganese accepted a ‘Reagent Optimization and Locked Cycle Scoping Study’ proposal from R&D firm Kemetco Research Inc.
Larry Reaugh, president and chief executive officer of American Manganese, said: “Currently, the company is diligently proceeding with Phase 3 of its scoping test program to build prototype coin cell rechargeable batteries from reconstituted lithium and cobalt powders generated to-date.
“If Phase 3 produces successful results, the company’s process will be sufficiently proved to justify filing a US Provisional Patent Application of the Company’s proprietary process.”
A statement said Kemetco has prepared a graduated technology development program with the goal of developing a complete flowsheet to maximise the recovery of valuable cathode components while minimising reagent consumption and addressing water balance in an environmentally friendly and economic manner.
American Manganese has already conducted scoping studies as a proof of concept to show lithium cobalt oxide could be leached, and the leached cobalt and lithium could be made into reconstituted cathode materials.
Phase 1 extractions of 100% for both lithium and cobalt were achieved from cathode powders used for lithium ion batteries.
Phase 2 showed 91% of the cobalt and 60% of the lithium could be precipitated from the leach solution in a single pass. Repeating the cycle multiple times should increase the recovery of lithium to approach 90%.