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By A.J. Roan
Metal Tech News 

Electra recycles lithium from spent batteries

Potential game-changer for North America's EV supply chain Metal Tech News – March 15, 2023


Last updated 6/8/2023 at 11:06am

A large canvas sack filled with lumps of recycled batteries or black mass.

Electra Battery Materials Corp.

Black mass is an aggregate of ground-up batteries that is then treated through various means to extract the valuable minerals and metals used to make new batteries.

Marking a significant milestone in its role as a leading electric vehicle battery recycler, Electra Battery Materials Corp. announced the successful recovery of technical-grade lithium carbonate from a black mass recycling trial conducted at its refinery north of Toronto, Canada.

Black mass, the material remaining once expired lithium-ion batteries are shredded and all casings removed, typically consists of some mix of lithium, nickel, cobalt, manganese, copper, and graphite ready to be recycled for new batteries.

"Recovering lithium from black mass represents a potential game changer for Electra and the North American EV supply chain," said Electra Battery Materials CEO Trent Mell. "Recycling lithium from expired batteries through hydrometallurgy lowers the carbon footprint of manufacturing electric vehicles and represents an important source of future supply for a commodity whose demand is expected to grow significantly in the coming years."

Mining technology critical green energy electric vehicles rare earth metals minerals news

Launching its demonstration plant at the end of 2022, the company quickly showed its capabilities with the first plant-scale recycling of black mass toward the end of February.

You can read about Electra's significant development at Electra makes first battery recycling move in the February 23, 2023 edition of Metal Tech News.

"Successfully demonstrating our lithium recovery process in a plant-scale environment supports our plans to commercialize our process with our industry partners and is a testament to efforts of Electra's technical team," added Mell.

Electra says that it has also decided to extend its black mass processing and recovery activities through June, beyond the company's initial target of 75 metric tons, due to preliminary results achieved and interest expressed by potential commercial partners.

The additional and total amount of material to be processed and recovered through June will be determined in the coming weeks.

"Our refinery team, combined with our consulting engineering partners, achieved a significant milestone in proving up our hydrometallurgical process for treating black mass," said Electra Battery Materials Vice President of Project Development Mark Trevisiol. "We achieved these outstanding results in less than two years, going from bench-scale laboratory testing to plant scale production."

With high-grade lithium carbonate added to its list of products, Electra is proving once again it holds a sizable lead compared to other recyclers in the race to meet battery material demand.

"From Electra's perspective, it considerably strengthens the economics of our battery recycling strategy by providing another high-value product we can sell," finished Mell.


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