Battery Manufacturing and Recycling

Lithium recrystallization and recovery of valuable metals

From electronics to electric vehicles, the world increasingly runs on lithium ion technology. Saltworks’ advanced water processing, extraction, and crystallization technologies contribute to multiple parts of battery manufacturing and recycling flows. Recycling lithium ion batteries closes the loop on valuable production materials including lithium, cobalt, and nickel. 

Lithium Ion Batteries 

As major auto manufacturers rapidly shift from the combustion engine to lithium ion batteries, the economics of lithium ion battery manufacturing and recycling are swiftly changing:

  • Increasing demand for valuable, reusable components
  • Increasing supply of recycling materials as both the size and quantity of available end-of-life batteries grow
  • Technological developments in chemical processes and automation.

Besides our successes in lithium refining applications, Saltworks’ chemical, membrane, and thermal technologies also add value to lithium ion battery manufacturing and recycling operators. In particular, the extraction and recovery of valuable metals such as cobalt and nickel are promising, as well as LiOH recrystallization.

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

To recover valuable metals such as cobalt 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
  • precipitate the resulting metal sulfates as solids

With valuable metals now in solution, Saltworks’ smart chemical conversion processes help recover ions of value, while our SaltMaker family crystallizes the solids. During the process, we help clients recover clean water for re-use.

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.

 

If 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.

3D Render of a SaltMaker MVR evaporator

SaltMaker MVR

The SaltMaker MVR is a forced circulation MVR that concentrates recovered brines and crystallizes solid products from solution. 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, including consideration of upstream membrane and chemical systems.

Wastewaters & Acid Reuse

After recovering the high value components of spent lithium ion batteries, most operators will be left with a complex wastewater that requires treatment. We can help with that too, even recovering freshwater and acid while we do it. Our electrodialysis reversal system, FlexEDR, outfitted with proton selective IonFlux Membranes, recovers and purifies acid, reducing chemical costs and waste.

 

Saltworks is focused on helping lithium ion battery recycling operators recover more metals, and improve their purity and yields. To learn more, contact our lithium industry experts.

A photo of a Saltworks engineer inspecting pilot plant operations

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Lithium Extraction and Refining

Saltworks brings water mining expertise and advanced desalination technologies to our lithium clients, offering solutions for concentrating, refining, and converting low-grade lithium sources to battery-grade product. We offer higher purity and lower energy processing technology, that boosts yield, removes unit operations, and reduces cost.