Lithium can now be recycled | 2/12/2019 | Staff
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Lithium from Norwegian electric car batteries isn't recycled that often. Instead, it ends up as waste when other metals it's mixed with are recycled. But this may change.

This year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry went to three pioneers in the development of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. These batteries are now found everywhere and are a vital component of today's electric cars.

Lithium - Concentrations - Earth - Crust - Fact

But lithium is also quite rare, and is usually present only in small concentrations where it is found in the Earth's crust. Yet recycling has been only minimally profitable. In fact, EV owners have had to pay to recycle their car batteries.

Now a research group at NTNU wants to collaborate with Norwegian industry to do something about that.

Goal - Percent - Recycling - Lithium - Car

"Our goal is 100 percent recycling of lithium from electric car batteries," says postdoctoral fellow Sulalit Bandyopadhyay at NTNU's Department of Chemical Engineering.

"We're the only research group in Norway that is studying this method," says Bandyopadhyay.

Goal - Lithium - EV - Batteries - Hydrometallurgy

The goal is to recover lithium from EV batteries using hydrometallurgy. This means that a raw material is first dissolved in water and that the substance you want to extract is then precipitated. Norwegian companies have longstanding experience with this method. The process is used to extract nickel and zinc, for example.

But lithium from electric car batteries isn't recycled. For a long time, these batteries—in the name of the environment—were sent halfway around the globe for recycling in China. Now the Chinese have enough of their own trash and no longer accept the West's garbage. Instead, Norwegian EV batteries are stored in Sandefjord municipality, where they are taken apart and sent for further sorting and recycling in Europe, North America and Asia.

Europe - Batteries - Recycling - Plant - Belgium

In Europe, the batteries often end up at a recycling plant in Belgium, Germany or Canada. The raw material is incinerated, and copper and nickel from the batteries are...
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