Battery X Recycling Technologies Inc. (“Battery X”) is developing technologies for refining battery metals including from black mass (a mixture of nickel, manganese, cobalt oxides, and graphite) created after spent lithium-ion batteries are dismantled and shredded. Battery X is also developing methods to reduce the use of harsh chemicals and carbon dioxide emissions in metals processing.
Black mass is the industry term used to describe the material remaining once spent lithium-ion batteries are shredded and all casings removed. Black mass contains high-value elements, including nickel, cobalt, manganese, copper, lithium, and graphite, that once recovered, can be recycled to produce new lithium-ion batteries.
Battery X has undertaken extensive research on innovation opportunities to reduce carbon emissions from metals refining with an emphasis on critical metals forecast to be in chronic shortage in the Lithium-ion battery supply chain. Ongoing research will be undertaken to investigate the viability of froth floatation and the use of green solvents which may potentially displace the use of sulphuric acid widely used in hydrometallurgical processes.
Battery X is a party to a Collaborative Research Agreement with the University of British Columbia (“UBC”) whereby Battery X and the UBC will conduct research work to identify optimize black mass prior to processing.
To become a world leader in the battery recycling and battery materials sector.
We are on a mission to solve the problems in battery recycling technologies, systems, processes, and applications to create a cleaner future for tomorrow.
At present, although lithium battery materials can be recycled, the recovery rate of these materials in various conventional processes can be underwhelming. The price of battery materials has fluctuated sharply recently due to the increased demand and sales of electric vehicles. For example, lithium carbonate increased by 95% in 2022. Incorporating circular economic thinking into supply chains to leverage recycled materials is of the utmost importance both in terms of meeting demand for raw material as well as securing low carbon sources of these critical metals. Other issues to consider are as follows:
- The pace of new battery manufacturing facilities is expected to far exceed available raw materials (see market analysis section for detail).
- 5-10% of lithium-ion battery manufacturing volumes are typically rejected and are available for recycling now.
- Recycling volumes are growing alongside manufacturing output in parallel to exponential growth of battery manufacturing capacity in North America and internationally.
- Rapid growth in spent battery materials now without factoring in exponential future processing volumes that will require processing as EV batteries reach “end of life”.
- The Lithium chemicals industry is estimated to require $42B of investment to meet 2030 demand1.
- A 20g battery has the potential to pollute as much as 1 square kilometer of land for up to 50 years. A single Tesla Model 3 battery weighs 480kg.
- The EV industry will need to work to reduce CO2 generated to manufacture an EV. The manufacturing of a standard EV currently generates approximately 8.80 tonnes of CO2 compared to 5.6 for an internal combustion vehicle.
According to Benchmark Mineral Intelligence the North American battery industry is expected to see a continued shortage of critical metals for the foreseeable future:
Cobalt, nickel, and lithium recycling processes are nowhere near ready for the scale required for the energy transition to become reality and to deal with the imminent influx of recyclable materials. These recycling processes will have to adequately regain cobalt, nickel, copper, and aluminium from spent battery cells, while also regaining a significant share of lithium and other potentially valuable and recoverable materials such as graphite and manganese.
- Recycled materials offer the potential of lower carbon materials as compared to mined “new” metals.
- Battery X is partnering with leading academic institutions (UBC) to develop and commercialize innovative technologies for battery materials processing and refining.
- We are actively assessing vast IP acquisition opportunities in Asia and India to rapidly develop cost effective strategies to increase recoveries of critical metals from recycled batteries (and other sources of feedstock).
- Our goal is to secure rights and ownership of IP, while conducting advanced research and development, thereby pioneering innovative battery recycling technologies in a game changing manner.
Processing Plant Input:
Processing Plant Output:
- Based on projections from Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, North America will face chronic shortages of battery materials for the foreseeable future. Recycling will become a critical aspect of the domestic battery materials supply chain in North America.
- New Lithium mines in North America will take 8 – 10 years to build from exploration success to commercial production (perhaps even longer) resulting in high raw material prices and possibly manufacturing delays in the domestic battery manufacturing industry.
- All EVs sold today include a battery warranty of at least eight years and 100,000 miles. (Indicating about an 8–10-year life)2 indicating there is an expected exponential growth in recycling feedstock which will need to be processed in a cost effective and efficient manner.
- Companies will need to start building now to position for the future end of life materials which will become available as EV’s reach end of life.
- Governments may mandate % of recycled materials be included in North American Gigafactory supply chain.
- Recycled materials will satisfy “Domestic inputs” for North American Gigafactory’s (if mandated by government.
- Benchmark Mineral Intelligence analysts forecasts 2030 lithium demand to be 2.4M tonnes nearly 1.8 M tonnes more than the 600,000 tonnes forecasted to be produced.
- The global lithium market size was valued at USD 6.83 billion in 2021 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.0% from 2022 to 2030.3
- Currently only 2-4 North American mining projects are advanced enough to contribute meaningful supply of lithium.
*North American supply chain will be under pressure for the foreseeable future due to significant expected investment in domestic battery production as demonstrated above.
BATTERY X PRODUCTS & SOLUTIONS:
Joint Development Partnership with the University of British Columbia and Professor of Mining Marek Pawlik MASc, PhD, PEng (chemical engineering).
Overview of Key Research Objectives
- R&D of froth flotation on black mass and mfg. scrap
Research indicates that froth flotation of graphite from Mn/Co oxides is possible and that the oxides themselves could also be separated by flotation. However, those studies have been completed on pure model powders, not industry grade black mass. Research will be focused on determining feasibility of froth flotation on black mass and the creation of a concentrate that increases the suitability of green solvent refining. to identify physicochemical conditions (pH, reagent types, dosages) to separate black mass into individual components using froth flotation, with focus on selective recovery of cobalt-bearing oxides.
- R&D of green solvents on black mass, mfg. scrap & lithium brine
Initial lab research has shown that green solvents can selectively extract metals from LIB cathodes. Further research is needed to determine if the technology works directly on industry grade black mass (cathode + anode) and manufacturing scrap (cathode) or better on a tailor-made concentrate. What are the respective recovery rates and economics compared to current hydrometallurgy used in industry. An LCA for both processes will need to be completed to compare carbon footprint between technologies. Data will be used for a go/no go decision on whether to pursue commercialisation. Also, we will perform initial testing on lithium brine to determine if there is potential for green solvent extraction in mining operations.
- R&D on cathode regeneration and new cell manufacturing
Academic research indicates that hydrothermal processes can be used to regenerate degraded or destroyed LIB cathodes. Research will be focused on determining whether green solvents can be used in the hydrothermal process to improve sustainability of cathode regeneration.
Opportunity – Electrowinning (Green Solvents)
- Electrowinning using green solvents could significantly reduce toxic waste produced in conventional hydrometallurgical processes (Hydro metallurgy currently used by large number of competitors).
- Potential game changer in terms of CO2 emission reduction.
- Current hydrometallurgical process uses large quantities of toxic chemicals like sulphuric acid.
- Lab scale results indicate electrowinning with ‘green solvents’ is possible to extract.
- Li, Co and Ni in a more environmentally friendly way.
- Green solvents are reusable enabling a truly circular recycling process with a lower carbon footprint then hydrometallurgical process.
- Green solvents are non-toxic and can be manufactured at scale cost effectively.
Cathode Regeneration (With Green Solvents)
- Current hydrothermal process uses toxic non-organic acids.
- R&D into green solvent regeneration could be a promising new technology for battery recyclers.
- Green solvents are reusable enabling a truly circular recycling process improving the carbon footprint of current processes.
- Green solvents are non-toxic and can be manufactured at scale cost effectively.
- Tailor made concentrates could improve green solvent performance.
- Current mineral processing methods like flotation are highly suitable for graphite.
- Oxide flotation is also possible for Manganese, Cobalt and Nickel.
- Green solvents have shown high selectivity of metals.
- Not aware of any company making black mass concentrates for green solvents.
- This may be a novel process for LIB recycling.
Short Term Milestones and Objectives
- Advance UBC intellectual property towards patent application.
- Build out of Phase 1 pilot plant for mechanical separation of spent battery material in the lower mainland of British Columbia (Site TBD).
- Investigation of additional innovation opportunities.
- Evaluating and sourcing necessary equipment to build out processing plant.
- Engagement of environmental consultant to conduct impact assessment of processing plant.
- Secure site location for pilot plant and commence commissioning of the pilot plant.
- Secure agreements with battery collection organizations for materials processing.
Long Term Milestones and Objectives
- Increase plant throughput.
- Expand operations to include black mass refining.
- Continue to advance IP portfolio and industry partnerships.
- Commence sale of recycled battery grade materials: Lithium Hydroxide, Nickel Sulphate, Cobalt, Copper, Graphite, and aluminum.
- Conduct life cycle assessment (“LCA”) of processing plant in conjunction with IP portfolio to evaluate CO2 output.
- Continue to work with government officials to communicate the advantages of a domestic recycling infrastructure thereby developing policy which supports growth in the industry.
Battery X is actively engaged with several industry stakeholders to develop strategic alliances which are mutually beneficial. We are in advanced discussions and targeting the following:
- Manufacturers - battery, automotive, technology
- Mining Companies (evaluating opportunities to extract metals from ore using more environmentally friendly solvents and reducing CO2 emissions)
- Cell Manufacturer (cathode regeneration)
- Government Partnerships (Funding and meeting local green initiatives)