The UK is set to develop industrial scale battery recycling capabilities following the announcement of a partnership between Recyclus Group and Slicker Recycling.
Recyclus Group is 49 per cent owned by Technology Minerals (TM), a London-based company aiming by to increase its lead-acid battery recycling capability to 16,000 tonnes per annum by 2022, and 5,000 tonnes per annum for lithium-ion batteries in the same time frame.
“The focus for our recycling operation longer term is on the UK and European markets with a view to grow to 20,000 tonnes of lithium-ion batteries, and 60,000 tonnes of lead-acid batteries respectively per annum over the next decade,” said TM executive chairman Robin Brundle.
TM is a majority shareholder across a portfolio of battery metal projects, stating that its mission is to ‘sustainably extract the raw materials required for Li-ion battery cathodes, and help to recycle spent Li-ion batteries for reuse by battery manufacturers.’ To help deliver this circular economy vision, TM aims to build one recycling plant a year for the next six years.
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“We start full industrial-scale production in early 2022 with two plants,” Brundle said. “The first, which is currently being installed and will be ready for commissioning in January, is focused on lead-acid battery recycling. The second on lithium-ion battery recycling is now in a manufacture test phase and will be ready for commissioning in February 2022. The sites are both located in the Midlands.”
The process for recycling lithium-ion batteries within the plant remains under wraps, with Brundle adding that TM owns the IP on the process and the plant design and that the company is currently reviewing patent applications for both. He did reveal that the process handles ‘all five types of Li-ion battery sciences and in any mix or combination at the same time’ and does not use pyrolysis or saline solution. Brundle added that each plant will be able to process 5,000 tonnes per year on a single shift basis.
“Each battery type has a slightly different science, and our process allows us to safely recycle any combination through to the output of the ‘black mass’ material, which is rich in a number of the key metals which goes onto the final process of refining back to their respective form,” he said.
TM’s ability to recycle all forms of Li-ion battery opens up a range market opportunities including local authorities looking for safe handling and recycling, automotive OEMs, fleet management and auto dealership networks.
“We have the logistic solution and the re-purposing and then recycling engineering process that really does embrace a circular economy solution for end-of-use and end-of-life batteries,” Brundle said.