Project: Battery Recycling – Achieving Rare Earth Separation

Duration 01/01/2016 - 31/12/2018
Project Topic BatRE ARES deals with the recovery of rare earth elements (REE) from NiMH batteries recycling. NiMH batteries are based on electrodes containing nickel and significant amounts of critical metals such as cobalt and REE including yttrium (Y) and lanthanides (La, Ce, Nd, Pr). REE are among the 14 elements defined as critical by the EU. REE are not produced within the European Union but used NiMH batteries are present in important amounts within the EU and could actually become an important source of REE. In this project two French laboratories (LEPMI and GSCOP), one French recycling company (Récupyl) and one Portuguese laboratory (CICECO-UA) will work together to contribute to the elaboration of an innovative, original and low impact recycling process. The latter will start with the treatment of real battery residues (brought by the industrial stakeholder) and will end up by the recovery of pure REE. The main originality of this project lies in the fact that hydrometallurgical processes will be based on alternative solvents, namely ionic liquids, yielding a potential process in line with the principles of sustainable chemistry that will go beyond the state of the art of REE recycling. In order to maximize the chances of success of this project, atotal of three potential recycling routes are envisaged depending on the phase in which processes will be carried out. The investigation will focus on leaching of crushed battery residues using either acidic solutions, pure ionic liquids or ionic liquid –based aqueous biphasic systems (ABS). Liquid-liquid extraction steps for the recovery of metal ions from aqueous leachates will be studied using ionic liquids or ABS. Finally, recovery of metals from the extraction phases will be studied by electrodeposition and precipitation. Because a recycling process cannot be proposed without a thorough study on its environmental impact, the latter will be carried out within the project.
Project Results
(after finalisation)
BatresAres project, supported by ERA MIN network and co financed by ADEME and FCT agencies, has proposed an innovative process flowsheet based on the use of ionic liquids for spent NiMH batteries recycling Spent NiMH batteries contain important quantities of so called critical raw materials ( Ni and REE) and could be thus considered as important source of these elements for EU industry Two French and one Portuguese laboratories have been working together with one French industrial partner on the project Project BATRE ARES Battery Recycling Achieving Rare Earth Separation Spent batteries have been at first ground and subjected to a first mechanical treatment in order to concentrate the valuable elements in the so called black mass This black mass was then leached by diluted sulfuric acid at room temperature and after an additional precipitation step, REE were selectively and quantitatively separated from transition metals ( Ni and Mn) The obtained precipitate was, after an additional oxidation step carried out under alkaline condition, dissolved in nitric acid solution and cerium was selectively separated by extraction from other REE using a specific hydrophobic ionic liquid A quantitative back extraction then allowed its selective recovery Other REE were then recovered in mixture by precipitation Very innovative alternative was then thoroughly studied for the transition metals selective recovery The so called acid aqueous biphasic systems based on hydrophilic and inorganic acid mixture which splits into two immiscible phases under appropriate concentration of both elements have been described and investigated Upon splitting an ionic liquid rich phase and an acid rich phase are obtained and the studied metals partition selectively between the two phases It was proved that Ni can thus be selectively separated from Co Both elements can then be recovered by electrodeposition Finally, an environmental impact assessment of the developed recycling scenario has been carried out using Life Cycle Assessment ( methodology Using LCA results, it was possible to identify the hotspots activities (most impacting activities) and to quantify the contribution of the recycling process configuration parameters in order to support decision making for the more appropriate recycling strategy These are namely waste flows treatment, energy consumption and the number of reuse cycles of the used ionic liquids
Network ERA-MIN
Call The Third ERA-MIN Joint Call (2015)

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
1 LEPMI (CNRS Délégation Alpes) Coordinator France
2 University of Aveiro Partner Portugal
3 G-SCOP (CNRS Délégation Alpes) France
4 Recupyl France