“ITALIMPIANTI ORAFI S.P.A. Project co-financed under Tuscany POR FESR 2014-2020”
Project title: RI.B.AT Riciclo integrato Batterie AutoTrazione - PROGETTO RECYCLING BATTERIE AL LITIO DA AUTOTRAZIONE E SIMILI
The project identifies the most appropriate technologies for the disposal and recovery of used lithium batteries on an industrial scale, a deeply felt problem that can negatively impact the sustainable spread of electric mobility. The composition of the batteries makes it imperative to identify solutions that ensure the recovery of useful and recyclable materials by separating them from those polluting and harmful to the environment. From this point of view RI.B.AT represents a concrete implementation of an important case study of circular economy.
The project, thanks to the synergy between three companies and two Research Bodies, implements a modular and transferable process on an industrial scale for the treatment of end-of-life lithium batteries from electric transport vehicles and electrical equipment in general. Such process is able to recover and refine Lithium, Cobalt and Nickel in order to reintroduce them into industrial processes.
Tests conducted by the partners have shown that a pyrometallurgical process must be developed to achieve the recovery. In the first part of the project, two alternative and complementary types of furnace were studied, both of them rotary and tilting:
- Natural gas / LPG oven with a new oxygen burner
- Induction furnace, driven by a new dual frequency parallel converter
They feature very different characteristics of operation, environmental impact, level of innovation, potential load capacities, and can therefore be addressed to different customer groups. The project is developing them in parallel, sharing key elements such as: the control infrastructure, part of the sensors, the innovative systems for radiometric temperature detection and an innovative robotized loading equipped with a vision system.
The process is completed thanks to the development of two processes studied in the first part of the project, complementary and integrable, one for the recovery of organic solvents and Li salts (pre-melting), the other for recovering and refining Ni, Co (postfusion) and any remaining Li.
The prototype system includes an I4.0 monitoring infrastructure that oversees all process control systems and therefore both the on-board sensors and those that are being studied for monitoring the working and the surrounding environments.
For all the prototypes that make up the final Demonstrator and that will reach the respective Performance Indicators identified in the proposal, the market prospects found through the first contacts undertaken in view of the industrialization downstream of the project are of great interest, by virtue of the importance of the problem dealt with and of the innovativeness of the proposed solutions.