Photo by Joshua Sortino on Unsplash

The lithium battery manufacturing and recycling industries have momentum. With lithium-Ion Batteries (LIBs) essential to our everyday lives, attention is due the lithium value chain. Accessing the lithium-ion we rely on more and more requires several process blocks. Process solutions are needed for mining and geothermal brine deposits, battery materials, battery manufacturing and recycling. Drilling down along the way you may find as many process block customizations as the 170,000 ways Starbucks can configure your favorite drink.

To get a handle on the lithium battery manufacturing process and recycling needs, NAATBatt asked me to make a high-level presentation at their Manufacturing Committee meeting. For those who may not know, NAATBatt is an organization for exchanging ideas and technologies and learning about the lithium battery industry and supply chain in North America and around the world. You can download slides from my presentation, Process Mixing/Reaction, Solid-Liquid Separation and Drying for Battery Materials, here.

Lithium Battery Manufacture Processes

My discussion begins with mixing-blending-reaction options. As an overview:

  • Cathode and anode materials includes main active components, conductive components, solvents, binders, etc. Typically, planetary mixers are used to quickly produce the mixing effect.
  • For battery chemicals (e.g., hydroxide battery pastes, metal hydrides, lithium cobalt oxide paste, metal oxides, metal salts, etc.) a variety of agitators and mixing and reactor vessels are installed to produce the desired material
  • Electrolytes also require selecting from variety of agitator types and mixing and reactor vessels

Most importantly, determining the blade design, temperature, pressure, speed and vessel geometry through lab and pilot testing is critical.

Next up: Solid-Liquid Separation

Once the mixing/reacting step is complete, solid-liquid separation (SLS) follows. The SLS process can be batch or continuous, pressure or vacuum, centrifugal, tangential for high solids slurries (greater that 50%) to trace amounts in the PPM levels. I’ll save you the details from the presentation. As my readers know, I can discuss solid-liquid separation technologies for days on end. Some might say I’ve already done so in my Handbook of Solid-Liquid Filtration.

In my NAAT Batt presentation, I explore solids drying in detail too. Producing materials for lithium battery manufacture requires a “battery-grade” final product. There is a large variation among manufacturers about the characteristics of the powders being produced. These variances call for rigorous testing and data collection to determine the best drying solutions. In fact, some “battery-grade” specifications may require “pharma” type drying with clean-in-place capabilities.

P&ID’s Place in Lithium Value Chain

The Department of Energy acknowledges the essentiality of “technological advancement of batteries, and an emerging lithium-based, battery manufacturing industry.” Together, our efforts to develop the lithium-battery manufacturing value chain can help support clean-energy stability and mitigate climate change impacts.

P&ID is once again helping the battery materials market to produce dried powder for lithium ion batteries (LIBs) manufacturing.  We are further assisting with engineering review services for battery manufacturing (mixing, coating, drying, electrolyte filling, stacking, packaging, and testing). Additionally, we help organizations with their grant proposals for research funding for battery material recycling and manufacture innovations.

Contact me for more process information and let P&ID assist you in your journey.