Nexant Energy and Chemicals Advisory TECH program publishes a new report on the recycling of Lithium-ion Batteries
Lithium-ion battery recycling is widely acknowledged as essential for augmenting limited supplies of critical battery metals such as lithium, cobalt and nickel. An expected wave of lithium-ion batteries from widespread adoption of battery-electric vehicles is anticipated to strain existing metal supply chains while also provided immense amounts of waste batteries. In response to this market need, a large number of players and technologies have emerged to process waste batteries into new battery materials. Despite this widely ascribed importance, high levels of uncertainty pervade the immature sector. Much capacity is currently provided by adjuncts to existing nickel or copper smelting, which coexist with dedicated hydrometallurgic or pyro-hydrometallurgic processes based on mining technology. A wave of capacity expansion has strained feedstock collection, but most battery recycling ventures have been small scale, semi-commercial facilities and the sector has yet to fully consolidate. National and supranational policies have had a strong influence on the development of the recycling sector. Finally, new technology providers are also rising to the challenge of innovation in the sector.
NexantECA’s recently published TECH report, Recycling of Lithium-ion Batteries, assesses key strategic questions, such as:
- What are the major technologies used for battery recycling, and how to they differ?
- What are the projected costs of major battery recycling technologies, and how do their differing product slates affect their profitability?
- What is the effect of the cathode chemistry on the economics of battery recycling?
- Will battery recycling ventures operate as profitable metal scrap recovery businesses, or will they depend on regulation to collect waste disposal tipping fees or producer responsibility transfer payments?
- What is the current regulatory and commercial outlook for battery recycling feedstock availability?
- How will future changes in commodities pricing and battery technology affect sector economics?
This report focuses on the wide variety of available technologies in the sector for metals recovery from waste batteries, including both hydrometallurgic and pyro-hydrometallurgic processes. Coverage of pyro-hydrometallurgic processes includes novel reduction roast processes, reduction roast processing as an adjunct to existing metal smelting, and processes that use pyrometallurgical elements alongside traditional sulfuric acid leaching and precipitation. In addition, the report analyzes new technologies in the battery recycling sector that innovate on the traditional ore processing-based flow.
This report assesses the economics of a generic hydrometallurgical process and a pyro-hydrometallurgical reduction roast process with ammonium carbonate leach using process flows derived from commercial installations. A Monte Carlo simulation is used to assess the competitiveness of each process depending on feedstock input variation using input models of the 8 most common battery cathode chemistries. Process scenarios cover locations in North America, the EU, and Coastal China, and are assessed on the basis of margin, cost of processing and annual return on investment.
Effect of Electrode Contents on Annual Return on Capital (Percent)
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NexantECA’s Technoeconomics – Energy & Chemicals (TECH, formerly known as PERP) is globally recognized as the industry standard source of process evaluations of existing, new and emerging technologies to the chemical and energy industries. TECH’s comprehensive studies include detailed technology analyses, process economics, as well as commercial overviews and industry trends.
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