What is Lithium-Ion Battery Black Mass and why it must be recycled?

“Battery” colloquially refer’s to electrochemical form of energy storage. i.e. Lithium-Ion battery (LIB), Lead Acid or Pencil cells.

Globally 60 GWh of lithium-ion battery are manufactured annually. Consuming more than 1/3 of total lithium production. This demand is rapidly increasing due to Electric vehicles, green mobility transition and renewable energy storage applications.

The tremendous growth in the battery usage will also increase the end-of-life lithium-ion batteries and related waste, creating a huge opportunity for recycling of these batteries. It is expected that India will generate about 43,000 tons of LIB waste in 2030. This number will keep growing year after year. The core purpose of recycling is to reduce the environmental impact of these batteries and recover elements that can be reused for battery manufacturing.

A general weight distribution of different battery chemistries is given below

When a battery is recycled, it is usually discharged and then mechanically shredded, gravimetrically separated into plastics and metals. The metal part is further separated based on size. The end product is a fine black powder referred to as “Black mass”.

Black mass is usually a composition of anode + cathode. Which weight about 40-50% of battery cell weight.

The % distribution of elements in black mass varies depending on the cell chemistry.

Battery Black Mass accounts for more then 60% by value of a cell containing critical metals. Known resources are insufficient to meet their expected demand in the new decarbonized world. If we want usher the green energy revolution, circular recycling of Black Mass is absolutely essential.