The ReCharge project is being funded by the Technology Strategy Board and managed by technology innovation centre the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) to develop an economically viable means of extracting and reusing valuable metal concentrates from discarded batteries.
As part of the scheme, specialist fine grinding technology developed by International Innovative Technologies Ltd. (IIT) is being used to reduce the ‘black mass’ solid inner core of alkaline batteries into a powder form.
After reducing the black mass to a powder, the material is then suitable for treatment by different chemical and biological processes to extract the various metallic ions present, including zinc, carbon and manganese.
Engineering advances made by IIT have enabled the development of specialist powder processing technology that replaces traditional milling systems with compact, high output, modular units. The new vertical milling system is highly energy efficient and is therefore particularly suited to the fine grinding of hard and abrasive materials.
Under CPI’s project management, the consortium of companies involved in the ReCharge research programme also includes G&P Batteries and Augean plc.
With the UK Battery Waste Regulations now in force, the volume of battery waste required to be recycled is increasing. The UK has no processing facilities for portable battery waste, with all collected batteries currently being exported for recycling purposes. In addition, despite the growing number of retail and household recycling collection points, several thousand tonnes of harmful battery waste are still going into landfill.
To overcome this situation, and using its knowledge of sustainable processing and the biological recovery of metals, CPI is working with the project partners to design a process to successfully recycle the metals from batteries for re-supply into a range of manufacturing applications.
When developed the intention is that the technique can also be applied to other high metal concentrated waste streams.
The IIT m‑series technology is already utilised in a number of glass and GRP recycling applications and is also suitable for the low energy milling of a wide range of natural raw materials, minerals and industrial products, including aluminium oxide, silicon carbide, zirconium, limestone products‚ coal‚ GRP, fly ash and different types of furnace slag.