Discharge of lithium-ion batteries in salt solutions

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1research-arti0cle2021 22658WMR0010.1177/0734242X211022658Waste Management & ResearchTorabian et al. Original Article Discharge of lithium-ion batteries in salt solutions for safer storage, transport, and resource recovery Mohammad Mahdi Torabian1, Milad Jafari1 and Alireza Bazargan2 Abstract Waste Management & Research 2022, Vol. 40(4) 402–409 © The Author(s) 2021 Article reuse guidelines: sagepub.com/journals-permissions hDtOtpIs::1//0d.o1i.1o7rg7/1007.13147274/027X324121420X2216150822658 journals.sagepub.com/home/wmr The use of lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) has grown in recent years, making them a promising source of secondary raw materials due to their rich composition of valuable materials, such as Cobalt and Nickel. Recycling LIBs can help reduce fossil energy consumption, CO2 emissions, environmental pollution, and consumption of valuable materials with limited supplies. On the other hand, the hazards associated with spent LIBs recycling are mainly due to fires and explosions caused by unwanted short-circuiting. The high voltage and reactive components of end-of-life LIBs pose safety hazards during mechanical processing and crushing stages, as well as during storage and transportation. Electrochemical discharge using salt solutions is a simple, quick, and inexpensive way to eliminate such hazards. In this paper, three different salts (NaCl, Na2S, and MgSO4) from 12% to 20% concentration are investigated as possible candidates. The effectiveness of discharge was shown to be a function of molarity rather than ionic strength of the solution. Experiments also showed that the use of ultrasonic waves can dramatically improve the discharge process and reduce the required time more than 10-fold. This means that the drainage time was reduced from nearly 1day to under 100minutes. Finally, a practical setup in which the tips of the batteries are directly immersed inside the salt solution is proposed. This creative configuration can fully discharge the batteries in less than 5minutes. Due to the fast discharge rates in this configuration, sedimentation and corrosion are also almost entirely avoided. Keywords Circular economy, battery discharge and drainage, waste electric and electronic equipment, e-waste, electrochemistry Received 31st July 2020, accepted 10th May 2021 by Senior Editor in Chief Periathamby Agamuthu. Introduction As the use of intermittent energy sources such as solar and wind grows, the need for storage of electrical energy becomes more pronounced. One such storage method is the use of lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) (Jiang et al., 2018). The use of LIBs is growing worldwide, and the global demand is projected to grow 7.8% annually reaching $120 billion in 2019. The increased use of personal electronic devices has resulted in a staggering rise in LIB waste. Meanwhile, electric vehicles are also on the rise, leading to large quantities of LIB waste coming from cars in the future. For example, currently about 50% of cars sold in Norway are electric (Karagiannopoulos and Solsvik, 2019). So, the topic of LIBs from electric vehicles has attracted considerable attention in recent years (Fujita et al., 2021; Qiao et al., 2021). Overall, electronic waste is one of the fastest grow- ing solid waste streams worldwide causing significant challenges (Sattar et al., 2019). LIBs can be a good alternative to other types of batteries due to their low weight, high energy density, and high capacity. Nowadays, electronic devices, such as cell phones, laptops, and cameras, have become basic requirements of daily life, all of which include LIBs (Nayaka et al., 2019). On the other hand, LIBs contain valuable and potentially dangerous metals. Therefore, recycling consumed LIB materials is a useful way to both prevent environmental damage and also recuperate valuable metals (Nayaka et al., 2019). Spent LIBs consist of metals, organic chemicals, and plastics. The constituents are approxi- mately 5%–20% cobalt, 5%–10% nickel, 5%–7% lithium, 15% organics, and 7% plastics (Sun et al., 2018). Much research has been carried out on the extraction of valuable metals from elec- tronic wastes (Marappa et al., 2020). Several review papers on the technological options for recy- cling spent LIBs have been published (Makuza et al., 2021; Meng et al., 2021). Furthermore, the strategic importance and value of 1Civil Engineering Department, K N Toosi University of Technology, Tehran, Iran 2School of Environment, College of Engineering, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran Corresponding author: Alireza Bazargan, School of Environment, College of Engineering, University of Tehran, Enghelab, Tehran, Iran. Email: alireza.bazargan@ut.ac.ir

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