Battery metals recovery breakthrough in Malaysia

Asia: A team of Malaysian researchers has discovered a new way to extract lithium and cobalt from scrap batteries.

The innovative hydrometallurgical approach has recovered both metals in laboratory-scale tests from standard lithium batteries with ‘reasonable efficiency’, according to Ataur Rahman of the department of mechanical engineering at the International Islamic University Malaysia and his colleague from the department of economics Rafia Afroz.

The process first ‘bakes’ the battery in an oven at 700 degC to calcinate the cobalt, lithium and copper components, destroying organic compounds such as plastics and foams. The resultant material containing metal and metal compounds (salts and oxides) is treated with hydrochloric and sulfuric acid to leach out the metal ions.

Rahman and Afroz were able to extract lithium with almost 50% efficiency and the cobalt with almost 25% efficiency. Therefore, they argue, this represent a commercially viable approach to recycling the electrodes from such batteries.

The complete findings have been published in the International Journal of Energy Technology and Policy.

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