Battery Manufacturing and Recycling

Recovery of cathode active materials (CAM) and lithium recrystallization

From electronics to electric vehicles, the world increasingly runs on lithium-ion batteries. Saltworks’ advanced water processing and resource extraction technologies support cathode active materials (CAM) production and battery recycling operations.

With the shift to electrification of transport and energy storage, demand is increasing for:

  • sustainable and cost-effective battery-grade chemicals including from recycled batteries
  • CAM wastewater treatment and recovery to minimize environmental impacts and increase supply chain security
  • technological innovation in chemical processes for improved sustainability, yield, and economics.

Saltworks’ chemical, membrane, and thermal technology systems are optimized for lithium-ion battery manufacturing and recycling operations. We focus on recovery of ions of value, water recycling, and zero liquid discharge treatment of CAM or recycling plant wastewaters.

Cathode Active Materials 

Cathode active materials (CAM) are the key ingredients in batteries. CAM production facilities produce high-salinity blended wastewaters with precious metals representing a typical $10–60M in annual recovery value.

These wastewaters are often subjected to stringent discharge regulations due to environmental and health risks. Effective treatment can ensure discharge limits are met and significant mineral value is recovered.

A photo of workers recycling a lithium ion electric vehicle battery
Image of the lithium element from the periodic table as used in electric vehicle batteries
Image of cobalt element from the periodic table as used in electric vehicle batteries
Image of nickel element from the periodic table as used in electric vehicle batteries

Valuable Metals, Sulfuric Acid & Sulfates

On the other end of an electric vehicle or electronic device’s life cycle, spent batteries present the opportunity to economically recover metals of value.

To recover valuable metals such as cobalt, lithium, and nickel, some operators

  • mechanically break down spent batteries into a battery powder of cathode and anode materials,
  • leach metals from the powder using sulfuric acid and a reducing agent, and
  • precipitate the resulting metal sulfates as solids.
A photo of a full-scale SaltMaker Unit at Saltworks' HQ.
A full-scale MVR unit at Saltworks' HQ

SaltMaker MVR

The SaltMaker MVR is a forced circulation evaporative crystallizer that concentrates recovered brines and crystallizes solid products. Built-in self-cleaning ensures reliability at optimal capacity while producing a high-purity solid product.

We can engineer an MVR into your total process flow, with full consideration of upstream membrane and chemical systems. When treating CAM wastewaters, Saltworks’ MVR systems can achieve ZLD and recover lithium in resalable form.

Recycling Battery Nickel: Membrane ZLD

The SaltMaker ChilledCrys system selectively precipitates metal sulfates that have a steep temperature-solubility curve, such as nickel sulfate. It also recovers sodium sulfate from wastewater.

When recycling metals from lithium-ion batteries, ChilledCrys can continually separate and remove water and nickel sulfate solids, achieving zero liquid discharge (ZLD) without expensive chemical consumption or evaporation processes.

Process flow diagram of a SaltMaker ChilledCrys system
Process flow diagram of a SaltMaker ChilledCrys system

Optimize Your Project

Saltworks is focused on helping CAM and pCAM producers, lithium-ion battery manufacturers, and recycling operators recover more valuable materials, improve purity and yields, and improve process economics. Contact our industry experts to learn more. 

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Photo of battery-grade lithium solids prepared in Saltworks' Lithium Test Centre.

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Photo of a full-scale SaltMaker ChilledCrys skid

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