Krefeld. As consortium leader, ACCUREC-Recycling GmbH has initiated a research project for the recovery of lithium from used Li-Ion batteries. Under its leadership, several partners from science and industry are working in the EarLi project to return the lithium contained in batteries to the materials cycle. EarLi stands for “Extraction and purification of lithium hydroxide monohydrate from used electromobile lithium-ion batteries for battery cell production.” The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK).
While battery metals such as nickel or cobalt can already be recovered in higher yields, this is not yet the case for lithium due to the complex technical effort involved.
“Researchers around the world are looking for processes that can recover this valuable battery raw material at a high quality, economically viable, and high rate,” says Ralph Marquardt, Evonik’s Chief Innovation Officer. “Evonik wants to contribute to a solution that supports e-mobility with the lowest possible environmental impact.”
Thus, an innovative process chain will be installed on an industrial scale in which lithium is first converted from the black mass – a mixture of different battery active materials – into soluble lithium compounds using a thermochemical process developed by ACCUREC. The dissolved lithium is then electrochemically separated using a highly selective ceramic membrane and isolated as a high-purity lithium hydroxide monohydrate. Evonik has been working for several years on the development of lithium ion-selective ceramic ionic conductors and their application as a separation membrane in an electrochemical process. This innovative process combination should enable cost- and energy-efficient isolation of high-purity lithium hydroxide and thus close the lithium cycle in the battery world.
ACCUREC-Recycling GmbH specializes in the recovery of raw materials from batteries.
“Through the EarLi project, and especially with Evonik as a partner, we want to significantly shorten the lithium cycle and efficiently close it for battery applications,” says ACCUREC Managing Partner Reiner Sojka.
In addition to Accurec and Evonik, other partners in the consortium are the Darmstadt-based Öko- Institut and the Institute for Metallurgical Process Technology (IME) at RWTH Aachen University. The research consortium is getting a boost from the EU: European legislation will make the recovery of lithium and the use of recycled raw materials mandatory from 2026 with its novel battery regulation.
The funding call: “Research Funding for Battery Cell Production”, the BMWK is granting more than 150 million euros for almost 40 research consortia. EarLi is one of the selected research networks (funding code: 16BZF305).
ACCUREC-Recycling GmbH, a medium-sized, technology-oriented company with sites in Mülheim/Ruhr and Krefeld, is an internationally active company in battery recycling, most recently with annual sales of around €25 million and 80 employees. Founded in 1995, it has developed innovative recycling processes for all common battery systems and implemented them on an industrial scale. Each year, ACCUREC recovers more than 5 million kg of critical and industrial raw materials from accumulators.
ACCUREC-Recycling GmbH, Bataverstr. 21, Krefeld, www.accurec.de, Managing Director: Dr. Reiner Sojka (Tel. +49-2151-652980)
Kummer: Umweltkommunikation GmbH, Gebr. Grimmstr. 17, Rheinbreitbach, www.beate-kummer.de Managing Director: Dr. Beate Kummer (Tel. +49-2224-9011480)