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

EPA Grant Number: SV839485
Title: Separation and Recovery of Individual Components from theEnd-of-Life Lithium-ion Batteries
Investigators: Pan, Lei
Current Investigators: Pan, Lei , Zhan, Ruiting , Folayan, Tinu , Nunneley, Lucille , McGee, Michael , Schienke, Matthew
Institution: Michigan Technological University
EPA Project Officer: Page, Angela
Phase: II
Project Period: April 1, 2019 through March 31, 2021 (Extended to March 31, 2022)
Project Amount: $75,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet - Phase 2 (2019) Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Awards , P3 Challenge Area - Chemical Safety


Lithium-ion battery technology has become a state-of-the-art energy storage solution for consumer electronics, electric vehicles, and renewable energy. Because these batteries are expected to last only 2-10 years, they will enter the waste stream after reaching the end of their life cycles. The objective of the phase II project is to scale up the Li-ion battery recycling process from the bench scale that has been completed in the phase I project to a small-scale production prototype. This system is capable of separating individual components from spent Li-ion batteries and producing high-purity active cathode materials for new batteries. The phase II project is built upon the success of the Phase I project, in which the team successfully demonstrated in the laboratory that froth flotation and gravity concentrators effectively separate fine and coarse battery materials, respectively. Another objective of this project is to provide research opportunities to undergraduate students of diverse background and educational resources for high-school students and teachers.


p>In the phase II of this project, the team will build a prototype system that is capable of producing reusable battery materials from spent Li-ion batteries. Three specific tasks include 1) developing a PID-controlled teeter-bed separator and a 2-inch diameter flotation column; 2) designing a proof-of-concept system that integrates both teeter-bed separator, column flotation, and supporting systems; and 3) constructing a demonstration system on a mobile skid for both research and educational purpose. This project will provide approximately five undergraduate research assistant positions to students of diverse background at Michigan Technological University. These students will gain hands-on experience and interact with industrial partners. In addition, undergraduate students will be given opportunities to attend national and local conferences to present their research. The team will develop a mini mobile lab for high-school and middle-school teachers to teach engineering in their classrooms. In addition, the battery recycling team will participate Summer Youth Program hosted at Michigan Tech. A partnership with a Li-ion battery manufacturer will be established to explore a possibility of reusing recycled components in new Li-ion battery manufacturing.


Expected Results:

The team will build a proof-of-concept prototype for recycling valuable components from spent Li-ion batteries. The processed products from waste Li-ion batteries include copper, aluminum, and active battery materials. The purity of the recycled materials reaches 90% or above. A mini mobile lab will be launched in 2020, and the demonstration will be available for educational purpose. It is estimated that this project will impact over 10 undergraduate researchers and many high-school students who participate the Summer Youth Program as well as many high-school teachers.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 3 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 1 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

Li-ion batteries; waste reduction; engineering; recycling; renewable energy.

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2019 Progress Report

  • P3 Phase I:

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