ReLieVe: an innovative process for recycling lithium-ion batteries from electric vehicles

The energy transition will never be realized without an automobile that is perfectly integrated into the circular economy. With strong growth in the electric vehicle market, finding a way to recycle used batteries will be the main challenge. In response, Eramet has developed a recycling process that recovers all the valuable metals by joining forces with partners across the entire battery value chain.

ReLieVe (which stands for Recycling of Li-ion batteries for Electric Vehicles) is a collaborative research and innovation project whose goal is to develop an innovative process for recycling lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles. The idea is also to produce these new batteries in Europe and to build an industrial sector integrated from end to end—from the collection and dismantlement of the batteries at the end of their useful life, to the recycling of their components, to the production of new electrode materials.

With a budget of €4.7 million - more than 60% of which is funded by EIT RawMaterials, a European Union body - ReLieVe started in January 2020. The project brought together a consortium of four partners spread across the battery value chain:

  • Eramet, for the development of the recycling process,
  • SUEZ, for the collection and dismantlement of the batteries at the end of their useful life,
  • the Chimie ParisTech and Norwegian University of Science and Technology teams for the academic support.

In December 2021, the ReLieVe program was successfully completed: several test campaigns conducted on a laboratory scale and then on a pilot scale at the Group's innovation center, Eramet Ideas, made it possible to recover all the valuable elements - nickel, cobalt, lithium and manganese - with very high levels of efficiency and to transform them into new battery-grade metals.

The success of the pilot operations and the results obtained under the ReLieVe program mark an important milestone in the eventual development of an industrial recycling solution adapted to the European market, on which Eramet's teams are continuing to work.

The challenge: closed-loop recycling

ReLieVe is developing a large-scale version of an innovative, "closed-loop" process for recycling lithium-ion batteries. In contrast to more conventional processes, this one will recycle metals while retaining their physical and chemical qualities, so that they may be re-used in the design of a new lithium-ion battery cathode.

From an environmental perspective, the challenge is two-fold: first, to develop a process that has the smallest possible environmental impact—and carbon impact, in particular—and second, to maximize the number of lithium-ion components that can be recycled.

Discover the ReLieVe recycling process in video:

Consortium

Logos of ReLieVe project's consortium members

Logo EIT RawMaterials