LiBinfinity explores lithium-ion battery recycling

Researchers in Germany are working on a new project, ‘LiBinfinity’ that aims to develop an energy-efficient recycling concept for lithium-ion batteries.

Markus Breig, KIT

LiBinfinity is being carried out by a consortium of partners that include Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Mercedes-Benz AG, Daimler Truck AG, Primobius GmbH, SMG group GmbH, Clausthal University of Technology and Technische Universität Berlin.

The project is described as a ‘holistic concept’ for recycling lithium-ion battery materials. A mechanico-hydrometallurgical process without energy-intensive process steps will be transferred from the lab to an industry-relevant scale, KIT researchers said. KIT will then check whether the recycled materials are suited for the manufacture of new batteries. 

The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK) is funding the project with nearly €17m under its Battery Ecosystem Programme, with around €1.2m of this going to KIT.

Batteries for electric vehicles contain important resources such as lithium, cobalt, nickel and manganese. More than 90 per cent of the materials used in lithium-ion batteries can be recycled.

With LiBinfinity, partners will work out an approach that will extend from logistics concepts to the reuse of recycled materials in the battery’s life cycle. Materials that cannot be separated mechanically will be split at comparably low temperatures with the help of water and chemicals, the team said.

Dr. Joachim Binder, head of the Synthesis and Ceramic Powder Technology Group at KIT’s Institute for Applied Materials - Energy Storage Systems (IAM-ESS) explained that validating whether the recovered materials are suited for manufacture of new batteries is vital, as battery materials must meet high requirements.

“This especially applies to cathode materials, as they largely determine the efficiency, reliability, lifetime, and cost of batteries,” he said.

KIT is responsible for entry control of recycled materials, synthesis of new cathode materials, electrode production, manufacture of large-format lithium-ion battery cells of industrial quality, cell tests and evaluation of the battery cells. Based on these studies, requirements on the quality of recycled materials will be defined for their reuse.

The team believes that a holistic recycling concept for battery materials will not only enhance the ecological, economic and social sustainability of electric mobility, but also reduce Europe's dependence on imports of raw materials.