Purification of Lithium-Ion Battery Black Mass through Tailored Alkaline Corrosion

Research output: NRELPresentation


Obtaining high-purity material outputs is crucial to the viability of novel process aimed at direct recycling of lithium-ion batteries. Metallic impurities in recycled cathodes have been shown to inhibit performance, thereby threatening mainstream acceptance of recycled battery products. Thus, shredded black mass (BM) must be purified to remove metallic contaminants, and specifically Al and Cu originating from the electrode current collectors. We herein explore a process to ionize solid copper and aluminum to ionic form based on tailored alkaline chemistry, without incurring damage to the target cathode material (Li(NixMnyCo1-x-y)O2; NMC). Al and Cu corrosion may be enhanced through the addition of chloride salt, elevated temperatures, and the use of ultrasonication - all of which disrupt the formation of passivating films on the metallic surface, and thereby increase corrosion rate. We demonstrate optimized parameters for Al and Cu corrosion both from a kinetic and overall process cost perspective. Further, we analyze the impact of these conditions on the structural (XRD, SEM), chemical (EDS, ICP), and electrochemical (impedance, cycling, dQ/dV) properties of NMC, and suggest that the present purification method does not significantly disrupt NMC performance. Finally, we present preliminary results from a promising bench-scale demonstration of this purification process applied to a simulated black mass.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages27
StatePublished - 2021

Publication series

NamePresented at the ACS Fall 2021 Conference, 22-26 August 2021

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-5700-80758


  • alkaline corrosion
  • black mass purification
  • contamination
  • direct recycling
  • lithium-ion battery recycling


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