Helmholtz material institutes confirm high performance of recycled graphite

February 27th, 2024

The Helmholtz Institute Ulm (HIU) and the Helmholtz Institute Freiberg (HIF) jointly confirm a proprietary graphite processing technology by the Australian startup company EcoGraf. EcoGraf purified the recovered graphite particles to the standard battery grade specification.

Published paper on this project: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/cey2.483

The scientific program aimed at a comparison of the electrochemical performance of the recycled graphite material with a number of commercial battery graphite products. The study focused on the recovery and purification of graphite from end-of-life lithium-ion batteries, encompassing a mix of NMC and LCO battery chemistries.

Through froth flotation, graphite was successfully recovered from the Black mass, and the resulting concentrate underwent purification. The results of testing confirmed that the electrochemical performance of the recovered graphite from end-of-life lithium-ion batteries matches that of the brand-new commercial anode graphite as shown in the summary below. It has been found that the structure and morphology of the recycled graphite are essentially unchanged compared to pristine commercial anode-grade graphite, and despite some minor impurities from the recycling process, the recycled graphite provides a remarkable reversible specific capacity of more than 350 mAh/g.

Newly assembled recycled graphite and Li[Ni0.5Mn0.3Co0.2]O2(NMC532) cathodes cells show an excellent cycling stability with a capacity retention of 80% after 1,000 cycles, i.e., comparable to the performance of reference full-cells comprising pristine commercial graphite. Further refinements in the electrolyte composition yielded remarkable stability, evidenced by negligible capacity loss and consistent performance throughout extended cycling tests.

One of the Australian startup’s innovations involves blending recycled graphite with high-quality Tanzanian graphite for manufacturing anodes, thereby advancing sustainable battery solutions and ensuring high performance in lithium-ion cells.

The research program was undertaken between the Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology (HIF) and the Helmholtz Institute Ulm (HIU). The project results are further validation of the effectiveness of the graphite purification process for the production of high-performance battery graphite, as well as the re-use of recycled battery anode material for anode, battery and electric vehicle customers.

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