Battery recycling process secures £500,000 in funding

A company behind a solvent-based recycling process for lithium-ion batteries has been awarded £500,000 from the government’s Innovate UK fund.

RS Bruce claims to be the only company to recycle lithium-ion batteries in the UK

The money will go to Livingston-based Impact Solutions, which claims to have “successfully achieved proof-of-concept” of their CellMine process.

The company says this can “selectively recover finite metals from waste lithium-ion batteries using innovative, low-impact and environmentally friendly solvents”.

The government funding comes after the company was also the beneficiary of a £100,000 project from the Ecosurety Exploration Fund.

This enabled the company to “transform the CellMine process from academic theory to laboratory proof-of-concept”.

Innovative

Gareth Morton, discovery manager at Ecosurety, said: “From project kick-off at the beginning of 2021, CellMine very quickly proved to be an incredibly innovative project. It is successfully pioneering new scientific understanding that will improve the recovery of extremely valuable and scarce metals in batteries, whilst also reducing the environmental impact of doing so at the same time.

“We’re proud to have supported the proof-of-concept development and are thrilled to continue our involvement in the next stage that will see the project progress from the laboratory to a fully-fledged process.”

Process

Impact Solutions says it is using CellMine to begin targeting and selectively recovering lithium-ion cathode materials at a purity of over 99.5%, using real-world samples of black mass from a mixed-feedstock of battery waste.

The “low-toxicity, novel solvents used in the process can efficiently dissolve metals using a low energy input, due to the low process temperatures required”, according to a statement published today (13 December).

The statement adds: “This results in a low-cost, efficient process that promises to dramatically reduce the environmental impact of resource recovery for lithium-ion batteries.”

The Innovate UK-funding will “enable the project to expand the research to selectively recover all target materials from black mass, including cobalt, nickel and lithium”.

Impact Solutions will also seek to optimise reuse of the solvent to reduce the operating costs and environmental impact further. Crucially, Impact Solutions will explore the commercial application of the process to scale it from the laboratory to a pilot plant.

Partners working with Impact Solutions on the next stage of the project include St Andrews University and compliance scheme Ecosurety. The latter is also a project partner who will assist in developing supply chain and feedstock relationships.

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