The International Journal of Energy Technology and Policy has published a research that introduces a new method of extracting lithium and cobalt from the batteries.
This carries an important factor in the future of rechargeable lithium ion batteries as they power many electronics, electric vehicles, and more. A common problem of these batteries is that their lifespan is up to two to three years. Thus, millions of batteries need to be recycled efficiently.
Ataur Rahman, a professor from the Mechanical Engineering of the International Islamic University Malaysia, and his colleague Rafia Afroz found a way to extract metals from the batteries with enough efficiency. Since the lithium and cobalt prices have been rising up recently, the new research will help the industries to produce batteries for less and be more environmentally friendly.
The method that the research team used is “hydrometallurgical” meaning that both lithium and cobalt can be recovered from the 48.8 Wh batteries in the laboratories. The method includes calcinating the cobalt, lithium, and copper at 700 Celsius.
Then, the materials carrying metals are reacted with a very strong acid, like hydrochloric acid and sulfuric acid. After using hydrogen peroxide as a reducing agent, the researchers were able to extract lithium with 50 percent efficiency and the cobalt with 25 percent efficiency.
These metals represent 41 percent of the weight of a 48.8 Wh battery. Extracting and recycling such weight can also be commercially available to industries meaning that manufacturing new batteries can be more and more efficient and environmentally safe with new advances to this research.