Lithium battery recycling: several processes for recycling waste lithium batteries
At present, the recovery process of lithium battery recovery mainly includes three steps: pretreatment, secondary treatment of electrode materials and deep recovery. Each step involves multiple treatment methods, which also contributes to the complexity of lithium battery recycling. The pretreatment of waste batteries is mainly to remove harmful sources by crushing or sieving, decompose waste batteries, and realize simple separation and classification; secondary treatment refers to the targeted treatment of battery components and the dissolution of internal mixtures. The commonly used methods are acid dissolution and Two-step acid dissolution/alkali dissolution method of the internal mixture of the battery; deep recovery is to obtain cathode materials. Commonly used recovery processes generally include chemical recovery, physical recovery, biological recovery and combined methods. According to the different treatment methods, the chemical recovery process is divided into wet recovery technology and fire recovery technology.
In order to safely dispose of the waste batteries recycled from lithium batteries, the waste lithium batteries should be discharged before pretreatment to keep the waste lithium batteries in a safe state. The pretreatment process mainly includes physical methods and crushing and sorting, including mechanical stripping of the battery shell, crushing electrode materials, sorting and crushing materials, etc.
In the secondary treatment process of waste lithium battery recycling, the electrode material is actually treated by dissolution-leaching. The pretreated electrode material is dissolved with an acid-base solution, and the metal ions in the material are reduced to metals or corresponding inorganic salts such as oxides and chlorides, which is the key to the entire process system.
The secondary treated leachate recovered from lithium batteries may contain a variety of metal elements, such as lithium, cobalt, nickel, manganese, copper, aluminum, iron, etc. Through a large number of studies and experiments, the mature methods include solvent extraction, chemical precipitation, salting out, ion exchange and electrochemical methods. From the perspective of the recovery and purity of the target product, the solvent extraction method has obvious advantages over the chemical precipitation method in terms of mild conditions and recovery effect, but the solvent extraction method has high energy consumption and complex process. Although the recovery rate of chemical precipitation is high, the process is cumbersome. In the treatment of metal ions, metal ions with different chemical properties are treated by salting out, and ions with significantly different sizes can be treated by ion exchange or salting out. Due to the different properties of metal ions, ion exchange method or electrochemical method is relatively simple, but the equipment requirements are higher. In addition, the electrochemical process consumes a lot of energy and has a high recovery cost.
In the future, the research on recycling technology of waste lithium batteries will develop in the direction of effectively reducing costs, reducing secondary pollution, increasing the types of recycled materials and improving the recovery rate. At the same time, the application of new biological metallurgy methods with low energy consumption and low pollution in the recycling process of lithium batteries will also become the key points of future research and development.
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