A Study on the Effect of Particle Size on Li-Ion Battery Recycling via Flotation and Perspectives on Selective Flocculation

Tommi Rinne, Natalia Araya-Gómez, Rodrigo Serna-Guerrero*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
127 Downloads (Pure)


The recycling of active materials from Li-ion batteries (LIBs) via froth flotation has gained interest recently. To date, recycled graphite has not been pure enough for direct reuse in LIB manufacturing. The present work studied the effect of particle sizes on the grade of recycled graphite. Furthermore, selective flocculation is proposed as a novel approach to control particle sizes and thus improve graphite grade by preventing the entrainment of cathode components. Zeta potential and particle size measurements were performed to find an optimal pH for electrically selective flocculation and to study the interaction of flocculants, respectively. Batch flotation experiments were performed to investigate the effect of particle size on the purity of the recovered graphite. Results suggested that, in the absence of ultrafine fine particles, battery-grade graphite of 99.4% purity could be recovered. In the presence of ultrafine particles, a grade of 98.2% was observed. Flocculating the ultrafine feed increased the grade to 98.4%, although a drop in recovery was observed. By applying a dispersant in addition to a flocculant, the recovery could be increased while maintaining a 98.4% grade. Branched flocculants provided improved selectivity over linear flocculants. The results suggest that particle size needs to be controlled for battery-grade graphite to be recovered.

Original languageEnglish
Article number68
Number of pages19
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jan 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • direct recycling
  • froth flotation
  • lithium-ion batteries
  • selective flocculation


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