Utilizing Cu+ as catalyst in reductive leaching of lithium-ion battery cathode materials in H2SO4–NaCl solutions

Jere Partinen, Petteri Halli, Sampsa Helin, Benjamin P. Wilson, Mari Lundström*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
66 Downloads (Pure)


In this study, we introduce a novel waste battery leaching system that utilizes elemental copper both as a reductant and catalyst in a sulfuric acid-based lixiviant. Adding chloride ions into the solution stabilizes Cu+ species as complexes, which facilitates their use as catalysts for electron transfer between LiCoO2 and copper. With this leaching system, Co, and Li dissolutions of over 90% were achieved within two hours under mild conditions (1 M H2SO4, 0.2 M NaCl, and 30 °C), thereby avoiding the use of high temperatures, concentrated acids, and external reductants – like H2O2 – that are commonly utilized in battery recycling studies. The XRD analyses of leach residues showed that Cu dissolution proceeded via an intermediate step where solid CuCl precipitated on the surface of Cu, inhibiting the dissolution of both Cu and LiCoO2. The detrimental effects of CuCl precipitation were avoided by increasing the chloride concentration to ≥1.6 M, which allowed for very fast leaching kinetics (reaction rates up to kc = 21.8 × 10−3 min−1). However, such high chloride concentrations also significantly increased the Cu consumption and decreased its reductive efficiency.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105808
Early online date16 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Cu
  • Hydrogen peroxide-free sulfuric acid leaching
  • LiCoO
  • NaCl
  • Reductant


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