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Project Partners' Latest Progress Updates

The main highlights of the Work Packages from the RESPECT partners:

WP1 Battery supply and deactivation

The main focus of WP1 within the RESPECT project is on the optimisation and testing of the safe opening and deactivation of cells and modules prior to the pre-treatment step. WP1 is also involved in the gathering of information about the feedstock, supply of scraps, EoL modules and other materials to the project partners and defining safe logistics for the feedstock’s coming from gigafactories and EoL batteries providers to the recyclers.

CEA in collaboration with Orano has successfully conducted tests at different scales using the micropilot and nanopilot facilities. Different geometries, configurations and state of charge of the cells were tested. The results showed good performances for the deactivation process developed and were valuable to understand the kinetics and mechanisms of the process. The tests will be further conducted at Orano’s industrial pilot facility at Bessines-sur-Gartempe in France.

The other notable achievement from WP1 is the deliverable D1.1 – ‘Catalogue of data of the feedstock to be treated’ from Orano giving insights on technical specifications of the different feedstocks (EOL modules, gigafactory scraps), market forecasts valuable for the project. MORROW supplied NMC and LFP scraps and cell components to the project from its pilot installation and additionally LFP scraps were also procured from SAFT.

A guide on the safe logistics of the EoL modules was finalised by CEVA LOGISTCS. The guide outlined the different logistics operations, the risks associated with these operations and the regulations that needs to be followed. The guide also provides recommendations for diagnostics and safe packaging requirements.

WP2 Pre-treatment for materials concentration: cutting and separation technologies

Within RESPECT's WP2, the aim is to develop alternative pre-treatment methods for lithium-ion batteries. The initial step involves accessing the active materials within batteries while avoiding a crushing process that could degrade particle structure. Recently, CEA and COUP’INDUS have collaborated to create an innovative pilot equipment capable of cutting battery modules and accessing active materials. Simultaneously, KYBURZ has focused on safety protocols in case of emergencies during handling and cutting operations for battery management in emergencies, alongside manually dismantling battery modules to better understand the range of recyclable objects.

Moreover, ORANO has successfully carried out graphite separation from EoL modules and gigafactory scraps using its pre-treatment pilot. The graphite fractions were provided to VIANODE for its valorisation within the project. Another facet of WP2 is the focus on recovering lithium from the water produced by Orano's pre-treatment process. CEA has demonstrated over 80% lithium recovery from this solution using electrochemical ion pumping, while MEET has initiated research on lithium pre-concentration using cationic ion exchange resins.

Lastly, Addible benchmarked environmentally friendly solvents to dissolve battery binders and determined the best valorisation route for this material.

WP3 Innovative and low environmental impact Hydrometallurgy

The WP3 of RESPECT is focused on innovative and low environmental impact hydrometallurgy as a method to improve the sustainability of industrial processes through the use of low-CO2 chemical consumption and related emissions. Within the scope of this research, several innovations are already underway. AALTO has constructed an experimental-based model that allows the level of valuable metals like cobalt, nickel, lithium, and manganese leached into solution (PLS) during the acid treatment of spent battery waste (black mass) to be predicted. This model is currently tested for different types of black mass and initial tests performed by METSO on the pilot plant-scale have demonstrated the accuracy of the model predictions. The metal-containing PLS generated is being investigated by CHALMERS who are optimising solvent extraction techniques for the separation and recovery of metals in the form of salts that can be directly re-used in WP4 for the manufacturing of new battery precursors for active materials. The final task in this work package is led by CEA, which involves the purification of active materials recovered from e.g., manufacturing scrap. So far, the research has demonstrated that bulk impurity removal and further purification of different active materials can be achieved with environmentally friendly approaches that maintain the crystal structures required for direct re-use in battery manufacture.

WP4 Direct recycling and Active Materials synthesis and test (incl. cells manufacturing)

WP4 is dedicated to direct recycling and active materials synthesis, cell manufacturing and testing in the RESPECT project. In this framework, WP4 partners discussed and team-built specific unified standards for electrochemical characterisations of the active materials synthesised in the project (electrode composition, electric cycling protocols, cell manufacturing, etc). The aim is to get the most reliable methodology to validate the performances of active materials coming from recycled outputs of the RESPECT project, and soon to highlight the efficiency of both recycling strategies: full hydrometallurgy route and direct recycling route.

WP5 Impacts on health, environment, safety and circular economy: new practices related to developed processes

WP5 has been advancing towards its goals in evaluating and optimising the sustainability of the recycling process of Lithium batteries. The work started with a thorough exploration of the current battery recycling landscape, delving into the existing End-of-Life (EoL) routes for Li-batteries to establish a solid baseline scenario. This initial phase involved meticulous literature reviews on Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Life Cycle Costing (LCC), laying the groundwork for our subsequent analysis and establishing inventories with the support of the partners. Parallelly a solid framework for the recycling process modelling has been developed, serving as a starting point for the preliminary environmental LCA of the disruptive recycling processes developed by RESPECT. Finally, safe-by-design approaches have also started to be implemented collecting data from the partners to minimise the worker's exposure to the hazardous chemicals during the whole recycling process.

WP6 Dissemination & Exploitation, clustering & cooperation with funded projects

WP6 aims to enhance the visibility and amplify the impact of RESPECT and its project outcomes by optimising result dissemination. It seeks to articulate findings in accessible terms for stakeholders across industry, research, academia, policymakers, and the general public and led by CLERENS.

The introduction video of the RESPECT project was created and is now available on YouTube. The video serves to introduce the project to the general public, outlining its objectives, goals, ambitions, and how the project will support the growing Li-ion battery manufacturing in Europe.

A significant milestone was achieved as the RESPECT project had its launch event in October 2023. The event took place online and brought over 100 participants. The primary aim of the event was to introduce the RESPECT project to the general public and to position it on the path to a green transition. The event included the presentation of the representatives of the European Commission, the Executive Director of BEPA, European experts from other Horizon R&I projects and industry representatives. More information can be found here.

Innovation News Platform published the article about the RESPECT project. The article features information regarding innovative solutions for the recycling of different ranges of batteries to support the development of a competitive, circular, and sustainable European battery manufacturing industry.

The RESPECT project is a part of the Cluster Hub “Production of raw materials for batteries from European resources”. Together with the other 16 EU-funded projects, RESPECT is part of a knowledge exchange ecosystem, where partners involved in different European projects (private companies, support organisations, experts, universities and research institutes) can identify and discuss common topics related to their projects, and to the production of materials for batteries, as well as synergies that can foster innovations in this field. This platform aims at driving innovations for the recycling of batteries and the production of raw materials for battery applications from primary and secondary resources available in Europe.

To achieve Milestone 15 "Path to exploitation secured" -  and validate the Key Results Ownership List (ROL) for the RESPECT project, CLERENS conducted a two-hour exploitation workshop on June 19, 2024. Representatives from most partner entities attended. The workshop included an overview of the exploitation plan, progress updates, next steps, EU exploitation tools, and future responsibilities. Key outcomes were the validation of the ROL, identification of new exploitable results, introduction of improved data collection templates, and a preliminary stakeholder analysis. These efforts will inform the forthcoming intermediate report on exploitation.

Future activities: RESPECT partners are planning to organise the physical event on 10 December 2024, the event will be organised as a side-event of the Raw Materials Week 2024. The event aims to show how the RESPECT project is going to contribute to bridging the gap between the aspirations of the CRMA and the practical realities of achieving a secure, sustainable, and circular European Li-ion battery manufacturing industry. Stay posted, the information will come soon.

WP7 Project management

From the beginning of the project, WP7 has been steadfast in its mission to coordinate and streamline the project at a strategic level. Its primary objectives encompass ensuring meticulous project oversight, continuous communication with commission officer, efficient decision-making processes, and adept project administration. A cornerstone of WP7's methodology lies in its commitment to data management and robust risk mitigation strategies.

Central to its operations, WP7 has organised four General Assemblies. These gatherings serve as crucial meetings for Consortium partners to convene, collaborate, and share updates on task progress. WP7 fosters a culture of transparency, accountability, and synergy among all stakeholders, thus bolstering the project's overall effectiveness and success.


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