Perth-based Neometals have successfully commissioned stage 1 of its lithium-ion battery recycling pilot plant at the SGS Lakefield facility in Canada, which aims to deliver high-purity battery materials for market qualification.
The pilot will be built and operated by the Canadian branch of the Swiss-based technical services firm SGS, who will commence front-end feed works for battery shredding and dismantlement.
According to Neometals, it has developed a profitable process that recovers 90 per cent of all raw battery materials, like cobalt, manganese, nickel and lithium from end-of-life of faulty batteries, which would otherwise find their way to landfill.
Stage 1 involves shredding the used batteries to remove the plastic and steel casings, while upgrading the lithium, cobalt, nickel powders, shredded copper and aluminium foil into a black powder for use as feed material for stage 2, which will feature hydrometallurgical processing and refining.
The company will create powder from two tonnes of used batteries for the pilot, which will then be leached and recovered, and the water recycled, before finally moving on to construction of the recovery and refining stage.
“We are delighted to see our battery recycling project back on track,” said Chris Reed, Neometals’ managing director.
“The commissioning of the pilot represents a significant milestone and marks the culmination of extensive research and development into a flow sheet to process multiple battery chemistries – from consumer electronics to electric vehicle applications.
“With ever-increasing volumes of commercial lithium-ion batteries reaching their end-of-life, we are focused on proving at scale, then qualifying our scalable and modular recycling solution with industry as early as possible.
“The pilot will serve as a showcase facility for potential partners, as well as provide strong independent data for future engineering and financial studies.”
The pilot is intended to show that Neometals’ process can recycle a range of battery types from multiple sources, including consumer electronics, electric vehicles and stationary storage. It will also produce product samples for prospective customers and provide essential data for a commercial-sized plant.
A FEED study is planned to follow the pilot plant work and precede an economic feasibility study to give Neometals’ a commercial handle on 80 per cent of costs at an early development stage.