Electrohydraulic Fragmentation

New Recycling Process

Recovered Battery Materials

To further improve the sustainability of the new ECO COM'BAT cells, an innovative recycling process were applied to the ECO COM'BAT cells and production residues. The new process enabled the recovery of the nanostructured carbons and the functional electrode materials without new synthesis. This opens up new ways for improved efficiencies and closed materials cycles.

© Fraunhofer ISC

Batteries and Materials Fractions

The process was successfully tested for ECO COM'BAT pilot cells. After materials selective fragmentation in liquid medium, components with a low density (separator, membranes or other plastics) could be removed from the process medium surface. Metal fractions (current collectors, casing) have larger sizes after fragmentation than the electrode materials. Therefore, their separation was possible via simple sieving methods. The residual dispersion was centrifuged to recover the electrode materials (lithium metal oxide, graphite, nanostructured carbons). These materials can be further separated, activated and refined to promote their reuse for new battery cells or fed to an efficient hydrometallurgical recycling with reduced amounts of process chemicals. Based on the results, a multi-stage recycling concept was created.

The EHF Recycling Technology

The electrohydraulic fragmentation (EHF) is a materials selective fragmentation technology. Shock waves generated by pulsed high voltage spark discharges propagate through a surrounding carrier medium and hit the battery cells. Short but very intense impacts attack weak spots within the cells (macroscopic joinings, phase or grain boundaries). The materials detach from each other and can be recovered or concentrated with physical sorting technologies like sieving. Fraunhofer is operating a pilot plant that is accessible to the recycling and raw materials industry.

Technical Data of the EHF-Technology

  • Operating voltage 30-40 kV
  • Integrated EMC and noise protection
  • Automated operation via touch screen
  • Batch operation with manual exchange of reactor vessels
  • Reactor vessels with a nominal diameter of DN 400 and volumes of 29 l or 39 l

 

Further application examples

  • Fragmentation of WEEE (solar panels, mobile phones, hard disks)
  • Liberation of metallic inclusions from slags
  • Disintegration of fiber composites and laminar structures
  • Disintegration of rubber-metal compounds
  • Contamination-free comminution of high-purity material