Battery Recycling

Drying of shredded battery cells and production scraps

The global trend towards electromobility will lead to a steadily growing demand for battery raw materials in the coming years. Lithium, the cathode metals nickel, manganese and cobalt, as well as graphite are particularly in demand.
In addition to the natural but limited resources, the recovery of these materials from production scrap and end-of-life batteries will therefore play a strategic role in the future. For this purpose, a new recycling market is currently being created and considering the different material compositions and cell chemistries.

In addition to the discharge of the batteries, safety challenges in lithium battery recycling also include the handling of flammable solvents contained in the electrolyte material. Frequently used solvents are carbonate esters, which are released during the recycling process and can form flammable vapour-air mixtures under ambient conditions. Local overheating or a spark can lead to fires or even the destruction of the entire recycling facility.

EKATO offers its proven SOLIDMIX technology for the pre-drying of shredded battery scrap and has optimized it for the separation of the solvents contained in the batteries. By means of vacuum drying, the solvents can be quickly and reliably separated from the battery scrap. Continuous mixing of the material to be dried ensures optimal heat transfer and distribution in the equipment, which further increases the efficiency of the drying process. Due to the modular design of the dryers, it is possible to easily scale up to larger drying capacities. Usual capacities are in the range of 0.5-4 t/h.

This not only increases safety in the subsequent mechanical separation stages, but also the quality of the separation results. In addition, the separation of the electrolytes facilitates the downstream hydrometallurgical treatment of the so-called black mass, which contains the valuable cathode and anode materials.
Challenges • Removal of flammable electrolyte solvents before mechanical separation • Limited heating temperature due to risk of formation of hazardous gases • Changing composition of battery material EKATO Solution • Buffer tanks before / after drying unit • Vertical batch vacuum dryer EKATO SOLIDMIX • Optimized ISOPAS agitator for battery scrap • Solvent recovery system • Exhaust air treatment system Benefits • Safe removal of electrolyte solvents • Development of drying solution in own R&D technical center • Reliable Scale-up by modular concept from small pilot to production scale units (25-6,500 Liter) • High Safety by fully closed and automized process • Better purities in mechanical separation and hydrometallurgical recycling • Reusage of solvents instead of incineration