Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction, Ltd. (Changwon, South Korea; www.doosanheavy.com) has developed technology for recovering lithium carbonate from waste batteries. Li2CO3 is a key material that is used in batteries in electronic devices, such as laptops and mobile phones.
Conventional methods for extracting Li2CO3 from spent batteries involves heat-treatment, acid leaching and crystallization, which usually involve the use of chemicals such as sulfuric acid. In contrast, Doosan’s method does not use any chemicals. Instead, the battery materials first undergo a heat treatment, followed by an electro-absorption crystallization process, which uses only distilled water to recover the Li2CO3.The technology — developed by Doosan and for which a patent has been filed — has the benefit of being simpler and more economical than existing methods, and is also environmentally friendly since no chemicals are used.
Starting in the second half of this year, Doosan will begin a demonstration project for a facility that will process 1,500 ton/yr of spent batteries and produce Li2CO3 with a 99% purity. “We plan to aggressively target the domestic used-battery recycling market, which is forecast to grow rapidly to the size of 19,000 tons by 2029,” says Yongjin Song, the company’s chief scientific officer.