However, this major shift must go hand in hand with a more circular economy, where recycling and repurposing replace the traditional ‘take, make, dispose’ model. Nowadays, electric vehicles (EVs) and light mobility mostly rely on Lithium-Ion Batteries (LIBs), which are not yet green enough to reduce mobility footprint to lowest levels. Thus, recycling must be developed to achieve higher efficiencies and recovery rates to reintroduce Critical Raw Materials from End-of-Life (EOL) LIBs.
Recycling technology is still at the lab-scale due to the complex structure of End-of-Life (EOL) LIBs. Currently, pyro-metallurgy is the most applied method in the industry but is a highly polluting process. Another approach focuses on hydrometallurgical processes, that can recover Li and Al with low energy consumption. However, these processes are longer and costly as they require pre-treatment, leaching, purification and other steps.
FREE4LIB is a EU-funded research project on 21 technologies covering the entire Li-Ion battery value-chain. Our project aims to develop new technologies (5-6 TRL) to achieve sustainable and efficient processes to recycle EOL LIBs: dismantling, pre-treatment and 4 materials recovery processes) Our new processes will deliver innovative recycling solutions to reach efficient materials recovery in high amounts and thus improving the supply of secondary resources at EU level.
FREE4LIB also will deliver 3 processes aiming at metals and polymers re-using and electrode synthesis: this will allow the re-manufacturing of new LIBs with a Design for Recycling. Our team will also study options to harness non-reusable elements.
FREE4LIB will also optimise processes and traceability thanks to new Battery Passport (BP) methodology, and Open Platforms for the BP and Data-driven models.