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Recovery of Lithium from Spent Lithium Ion Batteries
Luleå University of Technology, Department of Civil, Environmental and Natural Resources Engineering.
2016 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Batteries have found wide use in many household and industrial applications and since the 1990s, they have continued to rapidly shape the economy and social landscape of humans. Lithium ion batteries, a type of rechargeable batteries, have experienced a leap-frog development at technology and market share due to their prominent performance and environmental advantages and therefore, different forecasts have been made on the future trend for the lithium ion batteries in-terms of their use. The steady growth of energy demand for consumer electronics (CE) and electric vehicles (EV) have resulted in the increase of battery consumption and the electric vehicle (EV) market is the most promising market as it will consume a large amount of the lithium ion batteries and research in this area has reached advanced stages. This will consequently be resulting in an increase of metal-containing hazardous waste. Thus, to help prevent environmental and raw materials consumption, the recycling and recovery of the major valuable components of the spent lithium ion batteries appears to be beneficial. In this thesis, it was attempted to recover lithium from a synthetic slag produced using pyrometallurgy processing and later treated using hydrometallurgy. The entire work was done in the laboratory to mimic a base metal smelting slag. The samples used were smelted in a Tamman furnace under inert atmosphere until 1250oC was reached and then maintained at this temperature for two hours. The furnace was then switched off to cool for four hours and the temperature gradient during cooling was from 1250oC to 50oC. Lime was added as one of the sample materials to change the properties of the slag and eventually ease the possibility of selectively leaching lithium from the slag. It was observed after smelting that the slag samples had a colour ranging from dark grey to whitish grey among the samples.The X - ray diffractions done on the slag samples revealed that the main phases identified included fayalite (Fe2SiO4), magnetite (Fe3O4), ferrobustamine (CaFeO6Si2), Kilchoanite (Ca3Si2O7), iron oxide (Fe0.974O) and quartz (SiO2). The addition of lime created new compound in the slag with the calcium replacing the iron. The new phases formed included hedenbergite (Ca0.5Fe1.5Si2O6), ferrobustamine (CaFeO6Si2), Kilchoanite (Ca3Si2O7) while the addition of lithium carbonate created lithium iron (II) silicate (FeLi2O4Si) and dilithium iron silicate (FeLi2O4Si) phases.The Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) micrographs of the slag consisted mainly of Fe, Si and O while the Ca was minor. Elemental compositions obtained after analysis was used to identify the different phases in all the slag samples. The main phases identified were the same as those identified by the XRD analysis above except no phase with lithium was identified. No lithium was detected by SEM due to the design of the equipment as it uses beryllium planchets which prevent the detection of lithium.Leaching experiments were done on three slag samples (4, 5 and 6) that had lithium carbonate additions. Leaching was done for four hours using water, 1 molar HCl and 1 molar H2SO4 as leaching reagents at room temperature. Mixing was done using a magnetic stirrer. The recoveries obtained after leaching with water gave a lithium recovery of 0.4%. Leaching with HCl gave a recovery of 8.3% while a recovery of 9.4% was obtained after leaching with H2SO4.It can be concluded that the percentage of lithium recovered in this study was very low and therefore it would not be economically feasible. It can also be said that the recovery of lithium from the slag system studied in this work is very difficult because of the low recoveries obtained. It is recommended that test works be done on spent lithium ion batteries so as to get a better understanding of the possibilities of lithium recovery as spent lithium ion batteries contain other compounds unlike the ones investigated in this study.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. , 118 p.
Keyword [en]
Lithium ion batteries, Slag, Recycling; Pyrometallurgy, Hydrometallurgy, Leaching
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-59866OAI: oai:DiVA.org:ltu-59866DiVA: diva2:1039125
External cooperation
Educational program
Chemical Engineering, master's level
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Available from: 2016-10-21 Created: 2016-10-21 Last updated: 2016-10-21Bibliographically approved

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