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Due to the different materials used and the complexity of the traction batteries, the development of recycling processes is a complex task that requires the interaction of different disciplines. Mechanical, fluid process engineering and hydrometallurgical methods are used to achieve the highest possible recovery rates. Using the approach to recover as many recyclable materials with high yields as possible a high efficiency of the method can be achieved.

The processes for the recovery of lithium, cobalt and other raw materials are both of ecologically and of strategic importance to the assurance of raw materials for battery production in Germany.

The main objective of the joint project LithoRec II is the development of mechanical, thermal and chemical processes for the recycling of lithium ion traction batteries. All processes of the recycling chain starting with the deactivation of batteries and cells up to the (semi-) automated disassembly of batteries and the comminution and classification of the different material fractions are examined. To achieve a high recovery rate, the recycling of the electrolyte (conducting salts and solvents) and of the anode coatings (graphite) are examined. Parallel to the research, a pilot plant will be built and operated, which includes all process steps. The separated active materials are transferred to the already existing hydrometallurgical processing plants at Rockwood Lithium GmbH in order to gain lithium and transition metal salts. The subsequent production of Ni, Co and Mn solutions and their processing into active material is to show that recycled materials are suitable for the synthesis of new cathode material for traction batteries. Another project objective is to update an LCA to confirm the environmental benefits over the extraction of primary raw materials.

Overall, the goal of the joint project LithoRec II is to achieve high recycling rates and to create the basis for an economically viable recycling of lithium ion traction batteries in Germany. Ultimately, the complete value-added chain will be realized and the end-of -life batteries accumulating in the coming years can be recycled.