About the project

Globally, olivine-type lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4, LFP) batteries have gained a considerable share within the lithium ion battery (LIB) market (23-36% in 2015-2016). However, no dedicated, economically-viable, industrial-scale recycling process exists for LFP-type LIBs in Europe or elsewhere. Nevertheless, LFP batteries contain three EU-critical raw materials (EU-CRMs), namely 0.8 wt.% lithium, 2.5 wt.% phosphorus and 16 wt.% graphite on battery cell basis. Efficient recycling of LFP LIBs is also required from an environmental point of view as the electrolyte contains toxic agents.

ACROBAT aims to recycle end-of-life LFP LIBs via efficient, innovative and environmentally-friendly processes and separation techniques to recover a maximum amount of EU-CRMs as high-value products and base metals (ferrous and Cu/Al fractions).

The specific ACROBAT objectives are to research, develop and validate:

  1. LFP-dedicated pre-treatment (i.e., shredding, mechanical separation) with reduced cross-contamination
  2. continuous, contact-free, in-line characterisation of LFP black mass
  3. extractive recovery of electrolyte materials (i.e., conducting salts, organic solvents)
  4. recovery of graphite by froth flotation
  5. recovery of lithium as battery-grade lithium hydroxide monohydrate by HCl-based hydro-/solvometallurgy
  6. direct recycling of LFP black mass by tandem hydrometallurgy-hydrothermal synthesis. The sustainability of the ACROBAT flowsheet is evaluated by a life cycle assessment.

Overall, the ACROBAT consortium (VITO, ENEA, Fraunhofer ILT, KU Leuven, Accurec) aims to recover 90% of the EU-CRMs (Li, P and graphite) from LFP LIBs and recycle LFP cathode material, graphite and electrolyte, respectively up to 5.4, 6.2 and 4.4 kt/y by 2030 in Europe. 

ACROBAT’s Industrial Advisory Board (Umicore, Bebat, Sortbat and Electrocycling) will catalyse the industrial valorisation of the project results.