Technologies of lithium recycling from waste lithium ion batteries: a review†
The consumption of lithium-based materials has more than doubled in eight years due to the recent surge in demand for lithium applications as lithium ion batteries. The lithium-ion battery market has grown steadily every year and currently reaches a market size of $40 billion. Lithium, which is the core material for the lithium-ion battery industry, is now being extracted from natural minerals and brines, but the processes are complex and consume a large amount of energy. In addition, lithium consumption has increased by 18% from 2018 to 2019, and it can be predicted that the depletion of lithium is imminent with limited lithium reserves. This has led to the development of technologies to recycle lithium from lithium-ion batteries. This article focuses on the technologies that can recycle lithium compounds from waste lithium-ion batteries according to their individual stages and methods. The stages are divided into the pre-treatment stage and lithium extraction stage, while the latter is divided into three main methods: pyrometallurgy, hydrometallurgy, and electrochemical extraction. Processes, advantages, disadvantages, lithium extraction efficiency, price, environmental pollution and the degree of commercialization of each method are compared and analyzed quantitatively. Despite the growing attention and the development of various lithium recycling technologies, less than 1 percent of lithium is recycled currently. We propose future needs to improve the recycling technologies from waste lithium materials and hope that this article can stimulate further interest and development in lithium recycling.