Next step for lithium-ion metal recycling
Canadian firm aims to expand battery recycling pilot plant Metal Tech News Weekly Edition – May 20, 2020
Last updated 6/27/2020 at 6:10am
American Manganese Inc. has launched tests focused on upgrading and expanding its RecycLiCo pilot plant, which recovers cobalt, lithium, nickel, manganese, and aluminum from the cathodes of spent lithium ion batteries.
American Manganese's revolutionary process and optimistic goal of reclaiming valuable critical minerals from lithium-ion batteries for reuse by the energy sector captured headlines earlier this year.
With nearly 100% of valuable cathode metals being reclaimed from lithium-ion batteries, this next step shows they mean business.
Kemetco Research Inc., a British Columbia-based analytics company that specializes in analytical chemistry and extractive metallurgy, is ideal for optimizing the chemical processes that allow American Manganese to produce their innovative system of battery metals recycling.
Tests carried out by Kemetco, which helped to pioneer the RecycLiCo process, will be concentrated on enhancing the capacity of the lithium-ion battery cathode scrap materials pilot plant, perhaps even doubling the current roughly 142-pound- (64 kilograms) per-day capacity.
The Kemetco team plans to gradually increase pulp density with the initial stages of the RecycLiCo process to determine optimum processing capacity without sacrificing the recovery potential of cobalt, lithium, nickel, manganese, and aluminum.
The optimization tests are expected to take several weeks, with the findings being incorporated into American Manganese's also recently announced commercial plant design.
This improvement of operations and an increase in processing capacity is expected to decrease the cost of future plants.
"When we first commissioned the pilot plant project, we were interested in successfully scaling up our patented recycling process, which I believe we have demonstrated," said American Manganese President and CEO Larry Reaugh. "We are now using this opportune time to determine the optimal processing limits and potential cost savings for our future commercial recycling plant."
At the beginning of May, American Manganese announced a design for their first commercial lithium-ion battery cathode recycling plant that is projected to recycle upwards of 3 metric tons per day.
With help from Kemetco, their estimation is US$12 million for the design and construction of specialized equipment.
American Manganese has expressed interest in commercialization via licensing or joint venture agreements and plans to locate the recycling plant in a strategic location within North America, where it will prepare recycled products suitable for battery manufacturing.
Due to the potential difficulties industries will face brought by the current COVID-19 pandemic, American Manganese points out that RecycLiCo could provide a North American source of critical battery metals, believing the battery recycling technology to be an opportunity for governments to advance research and assist in commercialization.
Their hope is to secure a domestic supply chain of these critical metals while also promoting an environmentally responsible circular economy in the tech metals race.
"We have always been confident in Kemetco, given their experience and recent achievements with ioneer's lithium-boron project. Our conceptual plant layout brings together the last three and a half years of planning, theory, lab research, pilot plant tests, and optimization," said Reaugh. "Our methodological approach was not an overnight success like some competitors may allude and our first recycling plant will be a demonstration of the RecycLiCo patented process on a commercial scale as we continue to expand our global reach."