HydroLIBRec – Optimized process chains for hydromechanical Li-ion battery recycling

The aim of this research project is to create the technological prerequisites for an effective, economically viable, environmentally friendly and function-preserving battery recycling (complete and optimized process chain) that guarantees the availability of lithium battery resources throughout Germany and Europe. The closure of the material cycles is ensured after the function-preserving recovery of the active materials through subsequent chemical processing and the production of “recycling battery cells”. The alternative process chains as well as the variations to be compared are modeled and evaluated by means of a life cycle assessment and economic efficiency analysis. This also includes a comparison with established processes and is intended to show which options for efficient recycling for battery materials are practically available in Germany.

The identification of possible process chains for Li-ion battery recycling taking into account established industrial processes and new process technology as an important intermediate step. Different sub-rocesses for pretreatment for the shock wave process are to be developed and optimized by varying the sequence of the process steps and the process parameters. The shock wave process should also be evaluated by comparing it with other shredding methods. The subsequent sorting of the battery fragments to separate metals, plastics and black matter also takes place in the water bath. In this project, these core process steps are mapped in a digital simulation model so that (re)designs of the battery cell can be derived quickly. A resource-saving process for direct recycling, i.e. for the cyclical re-use of active materials, includes a mechanical separation of the cathode material (active materials, carbon black and binder) with appropriate processing, i.e. chemical regeneration or enrichment of elements such as Li, Co, Mn or Ni in the active material crystal structures. After the electrode layers have been detached and pretreated (e.g. ultrasound process, dispersion, wet grinding), the agglomerate-free cathode material is fed to a decanter centrifuge as an aqueous suspension and fractionated without the use of further chemicals. Th