End-of-Life Lithium-Ion Battery Component Mechanical Liberation and Separation
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Effective mechanical treatment of end-of-life lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) to recover a high yield of enriched active electrode materials (i.e., lithium metal oxide and graphite) is key to achieving a robust LIB recycling process. In this study, shredding and sieving were performed on LIB packs of three cell types (prismatic, cylindrical, and pouch cells) to investigate the separation and liberation of LIB components. The results demonstrated that a significant portion of lithium metal oxide remained unliberated from the aluminum foil after shredding. Of the physical liberation methods investigated, it was shown that attrition milling of shredded LIB packs effectively separated LIB components, and enriched active materials, metal foils and low-value components into < 500 μm, 500 μm to 2 mm, and > 2 mm fractions, respectively. A combination of shredding, sieving, and attrition milling was demonstrated to be a promising mechanical/physical method for liberation and beneficiation of LIB components.
The authors would like to thank Ruben Ochoa for assistance with equipment fabrication, mechanical experiments, and material analysis related to this work. The University of Utah Waste Management Center provided batteries for this study.
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