More and more electric vehicles are using lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries by the day. However, some consider LFP batteries to be more difficult to recycle compared to other battery types.
Enter Green Li-ion, which said on Monday that it has developed a recycling technology and was ready to ship related equipment. The equipment, called GL LFP, can extract graphite, phosphate, aluminum, copper, sodium sulfate, and lithium carbonate.
It has a lithium carbonate extraction rate of approximately 98% and 90% for the others. One unit of the equipment can process 730 metric tonnes of batteries.
The equipment processes batteries that have been crushed into black mass or powder. Each material is extracted sequentially: first the graphite, then the phosphate. The third stage extracts aluminum and copper while the fourth stage sodium sulfate and lastly lithium carbonate.
The recycling technologies for nickel cobalt manganese (NCM) and LFP batteries are different.
LFP battery recycling has been considered less valuable as the extracted materials were considered less valuable. NCM batteries include the highly sought-after cobalt and nickel, which are used to increase energy density. LFP batteries use the more available sodium sulfate.
Green Li-ion changes the equation by offering to extract more materials besides sodium sulfate from used LFP batteries using its kit.
South Korean companies SungEel HiTech and Youngpoong are also researching LFP recycling technologies.
More car makers are applying LFP batteries to their EVs. Hyundai Motor Group (which includes Kia) is using LFP batteries for their latest models in Kona, Ray, and Niro brands.
Tesla has added LFP battery models to Model 3 and Model Y and selling them in South Korea.
Outside of South Korea, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, and others have launched LFP models. South Korean battery makers LG Energy Solution, Samsung SDI, and SK on are also developing LFP batteries.
Green Li-ion was founded in 2020 and has so far secured US$36 million in funding. It received funding from Twin Towers Ventures, the investment arm of Malaysian state energy company Petronas in September. Green Li-ion also plans to operate a factory using its kits in Oklahoma.