Separation and Recovery of Individual Components from the End-of-Life Lithium-ion Batteries

EPA Grant Number: SU839299
Title: Separation and Recovery of Individual Components from the End-of-Life Lithium-ion Batteries
Investigators: Pan, Lei
Institution: Michigan Technological University
EPA Project Officer: Page, Angela
Phase: I
Project Period: February 1, 2018 through January 31, 2019
Project Amount: $14,993
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2017) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Awards , Sustainability , P3 Challenge Area - Pollution Prevention


Developing the sustainable recycling technology for the end-of-life lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) is of paramount importance not only for waste reduction but also for economic profit. The objective of this student-centered project is to develop an advanced, low-energy physical and physiochemical separation system that can recover individual components from the LIBs while preserving functional integrity. Our main goal is to investigate the feasibility of a combination of gravity concentration and froth flotation as a new separation system that can meet three principles of sustainability for battery recycling. The preliminary result will be used in designing a Proof-of-Concept (POC) battery recycling facility at Michigan Tech’s Unit Operations Lab.


The student team of this project is to test and demonstrate the feasibility of proposed laboratory-scale flow sheet for recycling active anode and cathode materials as well as copper, aluminum foils and separators from the shredded lithium-ion batteries. The student team will measure separation efficiency of a variety of gravity concentrators and froth flotation. We will also conduct an economic feasibility study to compare contained values in product streams between the proposed work with other published methods (e.g.,hydrometallurgical and pyrometallurgical processes). The outcome of students’ learning from research experience will be evaluated using assessment tools.

Expected Results:

The expected outputs of this project are a feasibility report of the proposed work and an engineering design of a POC battery recycling facility that can handle 50 kg/t batteries. The success of this project will significantly advance battery recycling technology by lowering operating costs and increasing contained values in product streams. The wastefree physical separation process eliminates a need for regulation, treatment, and disposal costs throughout systems. This project will also provide educational opportunity for students to learn not only technical components of battery recycling, but also principles of sustainability through project implementation. Upon completion of the work, we will include the battery recycling process in K-12 education for pre-college students attending the Summer Youth Program.

Supplemental Keywords:

Lithium-ion batteries, sustainability, physical separation, froth flotation, gravity concentration.