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Interview: Recycling Electric Vehicle Lithium-ion Batteries | Larry Reaugh, CEO, American Manganese Inc.

American Manganese Inc. is a junior resources company with its headquarters in White Rock, part of the Greater Vancouver region of B.C. Canada. Originally incorporated as Ameridex Minerals Corp., since changing its name in September 2006 American Manganese Inc. has developed into a multi mineral resources company. Its focus is, among others, on the recycling of electric vehicle lithium-ion batteries using the RecycLiCo™ patented process.
ees International talked to Larry Reaugh, CEO, American Manganese Inc. about extreme dependence on critical materials, the potentials of urban mining and the recycling of electric vehicle lithium-ion batteries using the RecycLiCo™ patented process.


ees International: Your company is playing with hard figures, such as Bloomberg’s estimate of 125,000,000 new electric vehicles on the road by 2030, which means 2,000,000 metric tonnes of spent lithium-ion batteries per year by then. What do you estimate are the consequences of our continually growing, extreme dependence on critical materials?

Our extreme dependence on the critical materials that are used to build lithium-ion batteries is due to the growing trend of ‘the electrification of everything’ and clean energy. The problem is that these critical materials are sourced from conventional mining operations in remote and geopolitically uncertain parts of world and many countries gain political power with the control of critical material production, refining, and/or inventory. Therefore, a failure to produce sufficient and domestic supply of critical materials raises the risk of unexpected supply chain disruption.

On an environmental note, although lithium-ion batteries promote clean energy solutions, the source of critical materials is not as clean. Conventional mines require extensive environmental permitting and mine planning prior to production and when in production, mines produce harmful emissions and by-products.


ees International: Which are potentials of urban mining in regards to the battery industry?

Urban Mining refers to the recycling of materials from consumer waste, such as lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicles, cell phones, laptops, power tools, etc. The drastically increasing pile of consumer electronic waste is a modern-day gold mine for Urban Miners and beneficial for the battery supply chain and environment. Urban Mining would reduce the impact of conventional mining for new materials and promote a circular economy in the lithium-ion battery supply chain. Furthermore, it would create sustainable and domestic source of materials to overcome any unexpected supply chain disruptions. We believe that if something can be recycled, then it should be recycled.


ees International: What exactly happens at your RecycLiCoTM process?

After recognizing our manganese processing patents potential to recycle lithium-ion batteries,the Company developed the RecycLiCoTM Patented Process and Pilot Plant project to test recovery of cathode materials from pre-production battery manufacturing scrap and spent lithium-ion batteries. The RecycLiCoTM Patented Process is a five-stage hydrometallurgical process as follows:

Stage 1 – Pre-treatment of cathode material

Stage 2 – Leach of active material

Stage 3 – Purification

Stage 4 – Recovery of base metals (e.g., nickel, cobalt, manganese)

Stage 5 – Lithium recovery and water recycle

The process maximizes recovery of valuable cathode materials (cobalt, nickel, manganese, lithium, and aluminum) and minimizes reagent consumption and power while addressing water balance in an environmentally friendly and economic matter.

American Manganese is currently testing the RecycLiCoTM Pilot Plant to replicate real-world, closed-circuit conditions and provide data for full commercial scale-up.


ees International: What differentiates you from other recovery methods?

Existing lithium-ion battery disposal techniques utilize pyrometallurgy, which is a high heat process that melts the battery components down into a slag, with little recovery potential. The materials that are recovered are low purity and need further treatment.

In addition, many companies offer general pre-treatment of lithium-ion batteries, which tend to be categorized in the same field of recycling lithium-ion batteries, but these services mechanically size down the battery into a powder and currently sell the material to a processor that utilizes high heat and yields low recovery.

RecycLiCoTM is a cathode-to-cathode recycling process, which means the cathode materials from lithium-ion batteries that we recycle produces fresh cathode materials that can be used in lithium-ion battery manufacturing. We applied Near Net Shape manufacturing principles with the goal of efficiently recycling cathode material and generating products as close to the final form as possible, with minimum processing steps.


Larry Reaugh
CEO
American Manganese Inc.

 


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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