Cooperative Research Centres Project - Upscaling lithium-ion battery recycling

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UNSW SMaRT Centre with other UNSW researchers have won a new grant to develop new technology to upscale lithium-ion battery recycling.

Engineering’s Professor Guan Yeoh and Dr Cheng Wang along with ARC Laureate Professor Veena Sahajwalla and Dr. Rasoul Nekouei from UNSW Science were awarded $2.7 million to develop a novel process for recycling lithium-ion batteries in collaboration with industry partners Oxleigh.

Prof. Sahajwalla said there’s been a rise in waste as electric vehicle (EV) batteries near the end of their lifecycle.

“This project aims to develop a safe and environmentally sustainable micro-isolation process specifically designed to treat the black mass or shredded material from waste lithium-ion batteries,” she said.

Prof. Yeoh said: “The novelty of this technology is that it utilises an under-explored chemistry for a new application for recycling lithium-ion batteries.”

They were one of four winning projects in the latest round of the Federal Government’s Cooperative Research Centres Projects (CRC-P) funding

UNSW Sydney researchers working with industry to fast-track new medical treatments and recycling solutions have been awarded $11.1 million in the latest round.

The CRC-P Program links researchers with industry to develop products with commercial uses. Round 15 was open to all industry sectors with a focus on supporting projects in line with Federal Government priorities, including the National Reconstruction Fund (NRF) priority areas and the circular economy.

Professor Nicholas Fisk, UNSW Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research & Enterprise, said: “Our academics continue to make strong connections with industry under this scheme, with UNSW leading the Go8 this round, and overall being involved in 17.5 per cent of awards nationally since the scheme kicked off in 2016.”

He welcomed the diverse range of projects selected in this round of CRC-P projects, ranging from recycling technologies through to medical diagnostics. “Such strategic alignment is key to advancing innovation, ultimately leading to better social and economic outcomes,” he said.

Read the full UNSW announcement

Read the CRC announcement

Project summary:

The Project is developing a novel process for recycling lithium-ion batteries. The technology processes the ‘black mass’ from waste batteries into precursor material that can be re-used to manufacture new lithium-ion batteries. Project partners - Oxleigh, the University of NSW, Scimita Operations, Envirostream Australia and Worley - are undertaking an $8.1 million collaborative venture to advance the development and commercialisation of the process.

The Project will fully develop and upscale a safe and environmentally sustainable process that can treat up to 5.5 tonnes/year of black mass from NMC-type lithium-ion batteries to recover at least 80% of the lithium, nickel, manganese, and cobalt metals as salts at greater than 90% purity.

Partners: Oxleigh Pty Ltd
University of New South Wales
Scimita Operations Pty Ltd
Envirostream Australia Pty Ltd
Worley Services Pty Limited

1 Jan 2024 – 30 Jun 2026

Grant: $2,746,355

Total project value: $8,097,242