Electrochemical performance of recycled cathode active materials using froth flotation-based separation process

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Department of Chemical Engineering


With the rapid growth of the volume of spent Li-ion batteries (LIBs), recycling of spent LIBs has attracted significant attention in recent years for future sustainability. In particular, there remains a great need for the development of a scalable and environment-friendly separation process to recycle valuable cathode active materials from spent LIBs and electrode scraps. In this work, froth flotation technique was adopted to separate cathode active materials from a mixture of cathode and anode materials. To evaluate whether the recovered cathode materials maintain their functional integrity after the developed separation process, a variety of electrochemical analyses have been conducted systematically. The present work demonstrated that froth flotation process with kerosene enhanced separability of mixed electrode materials and the recycled cathode materials almost preserved their original electrochemical reactivity. Cycle performance (up to 200 cycles) and rate capability (up to 1 C) of the recycled cathodes were comparable to those of a pristine cathode. However, the higher polarization observed in the recycled cathodes was identified as a key challenge, and it needs to be addressed further. This work provides valuable insights into further development of a scalable froth flotation-based recycling process which can be implemented in a direct recycling process.

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Journal of the Electrochemical Society