The Energy Technology Institute (ITE) is promoting a project to completely recycle lithium batteries and reduce their environmental impact. Under the name ‘Recilion’, the entity will develop an innovative and sustainable process for the recovery of critical materials from lithium-ion batteries, which are one of the fundamental elements for the development of the electric vehicle industry, among others.

Currently, the vast majority of batteries in smartphones, laptops or electric cars are of this type. The growing use of these batteries in many sectors has prompted the ITE to launch a project with the aim of being able to recycle the materials of lithium batteries once their useful life ends, as reported by the institute in a statement.

The project aims to develop a “comprehensive” process for the recycling of lithium ion batteries, with the purpose of “maximizing the efficiency and sustainability of this process.” This focuses on the development of innovative technologies for the separation and recovery of critical materials, as well as the evaluation of the quality and performance of recycled components in practical applications, such as the manufacture of new electrodes for batteries.

Recilion has the support of the Department of Innovation, Industry, Commerce and Tourism of the Generalitat Valenciana, through Ivace, and is financed by the European Union, through the Feder Comunitat Valenciana 2021-2027 Program.

According to the ITE, the growing trend towards the circular economy and the preservation of the environment is driving the increase in sales of electric vehicles. However, this poses “significant challenges” such as waste management and dependence on imported raw materials.

Recycling lithium batteries not only mitigates negative environmental impacts but also ensures the security of raw material supply in Europe, contributing to the European sustainability strategy and the responsible management of electronic waste.

Recilion seeks to establish a comprehensive approach, with low environmental impact, that allows the efficient recovery of both graphite and other non-active components as well as the metals contained in the active material (cathode) of these batteries, in order to promote the circular economy and reduce the environmental impact associated with the management of this type of waste.

“This project aims to investigate the recycling of the entire battery cell, not just the most valuable materials. Among the results we hope to obtain, is the selective recycling of graphite from the anode component through a strategy that eliminates binder efficiently, thus improving the quality of the recovered material,” said Laura Cebri├ín, project researcher.

Also, the recovery of cathode materials by electroleaching will be carried out, “which will be used as precursors for the synthesis of new cathodes, and the validation of all these recycled materials as components for batteries,” he specified.