The present work offers a study on the engineering implications of the recovery of valuable fractions from industrially collected lithium battery (LIB) waste by mechanical and hydrometallurgical processes in HCl media. Direct leaching of LIB waste provides a possibility for Li extraction, a component that is lost into the slag fraction in the state-of-art high temperature processes. The challenges arising from the heterogeneous composition of industrial battery waste are highlighted, and the behavior of main metals present such as Co, Cu, Li, Mn, Ni and Al is observed. It is shown that mechanical separation processes can form fractions rich on Cu and Al, although subsequent refining stages are necessary. Regarding direct leaching, fast kinetics were found, as complete Li dissolution can be achieved in ca. 120 min. Furthermore, high solid/liquid ratio (>1/10) is required to increase metal value concentrations, resulting in a viscous slurry due to the graphite, plastics and other undissolved materials, which challenges filtration and washing of leach residue. Neutralization of the product liquid solution (PLS) result in co-precipitation of valuable battery metals along with Fe and Al. The highest value of LIBs lies in Co, subjected for solvent extraction (SX) or direct precipitation to make an intermediate product. SX can provide selectivity whereas Na2CO3 precipitation provides a fast route for Co-Ni bulk production. Li2CO3 precipitation from the remaining PLS is possible as zabuyelite - however, due to heterogeneity of the battery waste, the recovery of Li2CO3 with battery-grade purity remains a difficult task to be achieved by direct precipitation route.
- Hydrochloric acid leaching
- Lithium carbonate precipitation
- Solvent extraction