Recovering value from end-of-life batteries by integrating froth flotation and pyrometallurgical copper-slag cleaning

Tommi Rinne, Anna Klemettinen, Lassi Klemettinen, Ronja Ruismäki, Hugh O’Brien, Ari Jokilaakso, Rodrigo Serna-Guerrero*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
222 Downloads (Pure)


In this study, industrial lithium-ion battery (LIB) waste was treated by a froth flotation process, which allowed selective separation of electrode particles from metallic-rich fractions containing Cu and Al. In the flotation experiments, recovery rates of ~80 and 98.8% for the cathode active elements (Co, Ni, Mn) and graphite were achieved, respectively. The recovered metals from the flotation fraction were subsequently used in high-temperature Cu-slag reduction. In this manner, the possibility of using metallothermic reduction for Cu-slag reduction using Al-wires from LIB waste as the main reductant was studied. The behavior of valuable (Cu, Ni, Co, Li) and hazardous metals (Zn, As, Sb, Pb), as a function of time as well as the influence of Cu-slag-to-spent battery (SB) ratio, were investigated. The results showcase a suitable process to recover copper from spent batteries and industrial Cu-slag. Cu-concentration decreased to approximately 0.3 wt.% after 60 min reduction time in all samples where Cu/Al-rich LIB waste fraction was added. It was also showed that aluminothermic reduction is effective for removing hazardous metals from the slag. The proposed process is also capable of recovering Cu, Co, and Ni from both Cu-slag and LIB waste, resulting in a secondary Cu slag that can be used in various applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number15
Issue number1
Early online date22 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Aluminother-mic reduction
  • LIBs
  • Lithium-ion batteries
  • Mechanical treatment
  • Recycling
  • Sustainability


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