CEG participates in setting up the first Lithium production line in Europe

News - 21 March 2022 - Webredactie

Lithium is a scarce resource that is essential for the production of batteries. Yet batteries we urgently need to enable the energy transition, as they provide efficient ways to store wind and solar energy. We therefore need ways to process lithium more efficiently, techniques to refine and ways to recycle. A consortium of European companies and universities, including TU Delft’s Resources & Recycling group, aims to set up the first-ever Lithium supply chain in Europe. 

Currently, lithium for the European market is extracted in China or Chili. The goal of this Horizon Europe project entitled LICORNE is to increase the European lithium processing and refining capacity for producing battery-grade chemicals from ores, brines, tailings, and off-specification battery cathode materials. This consortium includes five large primary resource owners and a cathode manufacturer who will be able to reuse valuable Lithium, Cobalt, and Nichel that will be recycled from waste cathode material. 

Under the coordination of Francesco Di Maio (research director of the Resources & Recycling lab) TU Delft will work on upscaling an ultrafast sorting technique to extract Lithium more efficiently out of the ore. Usually, the lithium-containing ores mined from the earth includes a few percentages of lithium. The innovative technology developed at the Resources and Recycling laboratory concentrates the lithium-containing minerals and therefore improves the production process from the environment and economic point of view. The technology is based on what is called opto-magnetically induced sorting of crushed pegmatites. 

This technology is one of 14 groundbreaking techniques that were selected for this project to tackle the main bottlenecks in Lithium processing and recovery. The LICORNE project is coordinated by Tecnalia Research & Innovation in Spain.