With an ever-growing demand for critical raw materials for the production of lithium-ion batteries and a price increase of respective commodities, an ever louder call from the industry for efficient recycling technologies can be noticed. So far, state-of-the-art industry-scaled pyrometallurgical recycling technologies all suffer from the same bottleneck of lithium slagging. At the Chair of Thermal Processing Technology at Montanuniversitaet Leoben, a novel reactor was developed to recover lithium and phosphorus via the gas phase in a pyrometallurgical process. Critical elements such as Li, Ni, Co, and Mn of the commercially used cathode materials LCO (LiCoO2), LFP (LiFePO4), NCA (LiNi0.8Co0.15Al0.05O2), and NMC622 (LiNi0.6Mn0.2Co0.2) were analyzed in a batch version of the so-called InduRed reactor concept. The analyses underline that the reactor concept is highly suitable for an efficient recovery for the metals Ni and Co and that slagging of Li can not only be largely prohibited, but the elements lithium and phosphorous can even be recovered from the gas phase. Plant engineering issues were also considered for further development toward a continuous process. The MgO crucible used shows significant diffusion of various elements from the battery material, which is why the choice of crucible material still requires in-depth research.
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