6 minutes

Case Study

A Case Study on Minviro's Life Cycle Assessment of Green Li-ion's Battery Recycling Technology

Sophie Myers19th Jun 2024 07:00

Exploring the impact of innovative recycling processes

Green Li-ion
is a technology provider that develops recycling technology for recyclers, battery manufacturers and cathode producers. Green Li-ion’s technology recycles black mass directly into precursor cathode active materials (pCAM), with lithium carbonate and graphite produced as co-products, through their proprietary hydrometallurgical recycling process.

Green Li-ion had the objectives of understanding the environmental impacts of their technology and identifying hotspots to target process optimisations for impact reduction. Furthermore, Green Li-ion’s recycling approach is different to the majority of other hydrometallurgical recycling processes, which typically involve producing metal sulfates via hydrometallurgy. These sulfates then require a subsequent co-precipitation process to generate pCAM. Green Li-ion’s process recycles black mass directly to pCAM, skipping this stage. Therefore, they wanted to quantify the environmental differences between their process and standard hydrometallurgical processes, as well as pCAM produced from raw material extraction methods.

Green Li-ion engaged Minviro to conduct a life cycle assessment (LCA) on their recycling process to achieve these goals. With Minviro’s guidance, the key technical aspects of the study such as the location, system boundary and functional units were defined, in line with Minviro’s scientifically rigorous LCA methodology to quantify and compare recycling processes. First, the location of their facility in Atoka, Oklahoma was defined, and data was collected by Green Li-ion. Minviro then compiled the life cycle inventory, and conducted the life cycle impact assessment, validating assumptions with Green Li-ion along the way. The outcome was a ISO-compliant LCA report, which subsequently went through a critical panel review consisting of three industry and LCA experts.

This report details the environmental impact of Green Li-ion’s NMC 622 pCAM and lithium carbonate recycled products, along with comparisons to a generic hydrometallurgical recycling process, and pCAM produced from primary raw materials. The results found that, for NMC 622 pCAM produced via GLI’s process, the climate change impact was 76% lower than when it is produced via the selected generic hydrometallurgical recycling process, and 85-96% lower than when it is produced via the primary production process. Lithium carbonate produced via Green Li-ion’s process was found to be 20% lower than when it is produced via the selected generic hydrometallurgical recycling process, and could be between 300% higher and 69% lower than when it is produced via the primary production process, depending on the source of the primary lithium carbonate.

These results are now being used by Green Li-ion to inform impact reduction opportunities for their technology, and to communicate to their stakeholders, customers, and investors. In the coming months, Green Li-ion intends to collect operational data on their recycling facility in Atoka, Oklahoma which will be used to produce an updated LCA with high data quality.

Testimonial from Stephen Gow,
VP Compliance at Green Li-ion

One of the reasons we chose Minviro to perform this work is because it employs proprietary LCA software that allows a technology company like ours to measure the environmental impact, and then to update the LCA as more production data is made available, allowing us to make smart decisions on optimization to further reduce the environmental footprint.

We were also impressed with the qualifications of the team who have extensive industry knowledge and expertise in how to quantify and present environmental impact and make apple for apple comparisons with other similar technologies.

The team at Minviro made the LCA easy for both technical and non-technical functions within Green Li-ion providing regular updates on progress and delivering clarity to the process. Most importantly, we were invited to jointly review and agree on the LCA goals and scope, assumptions and gaps, allocations and impact results.

We can confirm that the LCA process itself, and not just the LCA report, allowed us to observe opportunities for improvement and prepare for optimization. We would highly recommend Minviro to other industry players looking for an LCA service provider.

Visit Green Li-ion's website here
Follow them on LinkedIn here

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