Expert Interviews

Retrieving Raw Materials from Lithium-Ion Batteries

American Manganese Inc. (AMY) is a critical metals and technology driven company focused on the recycling of lithium-ion battery cathode materials using its environmentally friendly RecycLiCoTM Patented Process. The process provides near 100% extraction and high purity of cathode materials, such as lithium, cobalt, nickel, and manganese, with minimal processing steps.


ees International: Thank you very much for this interview. AMY recently announced the successful recovery of high-purity raw materials from lithium-ion cathodes scrap. Why is this innovation so relevant? 

We have been seeing a drastic increase in lithium-ion battery manufacturing capacity alongside the electrification revolution. For reference, Benchmark Minerals Intelligence is tracking 102 battery mega factories with the potential manufacturing capacity to provide battery power for 36 million electric vehicles.

Therefore, with the growing demand for electric vehicles and portable electronics, lithium-ion battery recycling will be a certainty and American Manganese believes the demand for recycling is immediate. Fortunately, the company’s RecycLiCoTM patented process could eliminate waste by diverting end-of-life lithium-ion batteries from landfills; reduce mined raw materials by providing recycled materials for the lithium-ion battery supply chain; improve manufacturing cost by recycling cathode scrap for use in future lithium-ion cathode manufacturing, and eliminate carbon emissions with its closed-loop hydrometallurgical process. 

ees International: What is so unique about the RecycLiCoTM process?  

The RecycLiCoTM patented process has achieved high extraction (up to 100%) and high purity (up to 99.98%) of cathode materials from lithium-ion battery cathode scrap. Unlike pyrometallurgical methods that are capital intensive, achieve low recovery, and consist of high heat (1,500°C); the RecycLiCoTM uses a novel set of reagents in a closed-loop hydrometallurgical process that reduces hazardous by-products and environmental contamination.

With a minimal number of steps, the RecycLiCoTM patented process produces a cathode precursor material and lithium compound for use in new lithium-ion battery manufacturing. We call this methodology cathode-to-cathode and believe that it would reduce reliance on mined raw materials and promote a circular economy for the lithium-ion battery value chain.

ees International: Thinking circular economy; what scale of battery scrap material can be recycled with RecycLiCoTM (industrial, residential)? Is the project regionally limited? What happens with the recovered material? 

American Manganese has recently completed tests on the RecycLiCoTM Pilot Plant project, which collected technical data from the recycling of cathode scrap. The cathode scrap feedstock originated from the lithium-ion battery manufacturing process, where certain batches of material do not pass quality standards for many reasons and are therefore scrapped before making it into a complete lithium-ion cell. American Manganese estimates that, on average, 10% of manufacturing capacity gets disposed of as scrap. Currently, the valuable scrap is disposed of via pyrometallurgy or at a waste dump, but American Manganese sees the potential to begin sourcing and recycling at least 3 tonnes of cathode scrap per day. 

American Manganese considers the cathode scrap market as the low hanging fruit to demonstrate the company’s recycling capabilities. The project is not regionally limited but could be most beneficial near a lithium-ion battery manufacturing facility where the recycled product can be cycled back into the manufacturing process. 

ees International: What are the next steps for RecycLiCoTM and AMY?  

American Manganese and our contract research lab, Kemetco Research, have begun negotiations for preliminary engineering design and economic analysis of a Commercial Demonstration recycling plant for lithium-ion battery cathode scrap at a processing capacity of 3 tonnes per day. 

American Manganese would look to enter into a commercial opportunity with strategic partners, such as battery and electric vehicle manufacturers, via a joint venture or licensing agreement. 

ees International: From your perspective: How do you assess the future of lithium-ion batteries and e-mobility? What are the next steps towards a greener and more sustainable mobility? 

It is a positive future for lithium-ion batteries and e-mobility as we can see their adoption drastically increasing and infrastructure is also keeping pace. However, we need to look at the complete footprint of lithium-ion batteries with a focus on the supply chain because sourcing raw materials from mines are not green or sustainable. Although recycling cannot meet the whole battery metal demand, it would be reducing the need to source mined raw materials because the materials in end-of-life lithium-ion batteries can be recaptured and recycled. Therefore, we believe lithium-ion battery recycling will be a certainty and the next step towards a greener and more sustainable mobility. 



Interview partner: Larry Reaugh, President and CEO of American Manganese Inc.

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The ees International Magazine is specialized on the future-oriented market of electrical energy storage systems, not only from a technological-, but also a financial and application-oriented point-of-view. In cooperation with ees Global, the ees International Magazine informs the energy industry about current progress and the latest market innovations.
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