CoLaBATS Battery Recycling Technology
Process to recover cobalt and
lanthanides from waste batteries
CoLaBATS is a European-funded project to develop economically viable methods of NiMH and Li-ion battery recycling. The aim is to recover valuable materials including cobalt, lanthanum, cerium, and other rare earths, for use in industry.
The use of rechargeable batteries continues to increase, driven by consumer electronic applications and the development of electric vehicles. This increasing use of batteries consumes increasing amounts of valuable materials and generates more waste, so the CoLaBATS project is about finding improved technology for battery recycling.
Sustainable battery recycling technology
The aim is to develop hydrometallurgical (as opposed to pyrometallurgical) processes for the recovery of materials including rare earth metals. These new processes will be applicable at small scale and more widely than existing processes. Novel physical and chemical recovery processes will be developed, including the use of ionic liquids and ultrasonics. Specific objectives are to:
- Recover nickel, cerium, and lanthanum from nickel metal hydride batteries.
- Recover cobalt from lithium ion batteries.
- Identify potential for innovation in the metal manufacturing and recovery sectors.
- Evaluate the use of ionic liquids, electrochemical and ultrasonic technology
- Help develop improved standards in the battery recycling sector.
- Create new industrial applications and employment opportunities.
C-Tech Innovation’s contribution
We are the consortium leaders and also responsible for the “Laboratory Scale Process Development and Integration” work package, in which all the steps in the Li-ion and NiMH battery recycling technology are developed, including battery opening, shredding, and leaching, followed by solvent extraction and pure metal recovery using novel solvents.
Why is the project being funded?
A technical breakthrough is needed to achieve the objectives. Current processes are based on large scale pyrometallurgical recycling and do not allow the recovery of specific elements in high purity. The physical and chemical complexity and changing nature of batteries means that research is needed into new processes.
What problem does it address?
The manufacture and use of batteries continues to increase. This consumes resources and creates waste. The project aims to find economically attractive ways to reclaim this material, reducing the environmental burden and creating economic opportunity.
Who will benefit from the project?
If successful the project will reduce the environmental burden caused by battery waste, benefitting everyone. Commercial opportunities will benefit the battery recycling sector.
Co-funded by the European Union under the FP7 programme