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(WBUR Boston)   "We call it chemistry but it's alchemy," says scientist who shreds lithium-ion batteries down to a powder called "black mass" and then adjusts the mix of atoms to create new cathodes that charge faster and last longer   (wbur.org) divider line
    More: Cool, Recycling, Lithium, Battery, Lithium battery, Ascend Elements, lithium-ion batteries, extraction process, EV batteries  
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1010 clicks; posted to STEM » on 25 Jan 2022 at 11:20 AM (17 weeks ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook



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2022-01-25 10:04:47 AM  
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2022-01-25 10:55:57 AM  
Very interesting.  I'm glad it seems to be getting peer review.

If this proves out, it is a very good thing for us and for the planet.  I'm generally skeptical of things that appear to have no down side, and am curious as to what the down side of this process might be.
 
2022-01-25 11:15:23 AM  
Plenty of room for improvement in battery design.

Good if they are recycling them in the process
 
2022-01-25 11:18:42 AM  

Nicholas D. Wolfwood: Very interesting.  I'm glad it seems to be getting peer review.

If this proves out, it is a very good thing for us and for the planet.  I'm generally skeptical of things that appear to have no down side, and am curious as to what the down side of this process might be.


I'm sure there's going to be waste product(s) involved, but as long as the upside is better than the downside, this could be revolutionary for the rechargeable battery industry.  It's one of the biggest sticking points with the switch to EVs, dealing with the increasing E-waste of spent batteries.  Actually, dealing with spent lithium ion batteries in general is a huge issue given how they've been used in an exponentially increasing number of things over the past 15+ years.
 
2022-01-25 11:48:56 AM  
Once the shredded material goes through a series of sieves, it emerges as a fine powder known as "black mass."

I've heard that Black Mass has quite the kick to it.
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2022-01-25 11:48:58 AM  
Well cheaper for now but if the batteries are better than new one can imagine that they become desirable and will become in demand.

Demand drives price.

But better than just dumping the batteries.
 
2022-01-25 11:56:53 AM  
Great article Subs. *thumbs up* Now here is some rare dodecahedral cobaltite for the hell of it
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2022-01-25 11:58:24 AM  
They are making a black mass in Mass.
I hope it's in Salem.
 
2022-01-25 12:27:51 PM  
"I was surprised," says Wang. "We can charge [the upcycled batteries] ... two or there times faster." The upcycled batteries also last longer, he says, and can be charged many more times than the original ones.
"We can have at least a 30% [longer] life cycle," Wang says. "Before you had a 10-year life [cycle]; now you can have 13 or 15 years of life."


So just keep iterating that process, and eventually you'll have batteries that take no time to charge and last forever.
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2022-01-25 12:37:58 PM  

Nicholas D. Wolfwood: Very interesting.  I'm glad it seems to be getting peer review.

If this proves out, it is a very good thing for us and for the planet.  I'm generally skeptical of things that appear to have no down side, and am curious as to what the down side of this process might be.


The downside is that the best employees are under age undocumented sex workers that they get hooked on drugs so they'll be more productive.
 
2022-01-25 12:39:42 PM  
Equivalent exchange is a biatch
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2022-01-25 12:42:15 PM  
"Not many people were working on [battery] recycling," says Wang. "But today, lithium battery recycling is one of the hottest topics in the battery field."

I interpret this comment FTFA in the most literal sense, and wonder how they mitigate the risk of burning the whole place down when they shred things that tend to catch fire, melt and/or explode when shorted out.
 
2022-01-25 1:04:27 PM  

Slypork: Nicholas D. Wolfwood: Very interesting.  I'm glad it seems to be getting peer review.

If this proves out, it is a very good thing for us and for the planet.  I'm generally skeptical of things that appear to have no down side, and am curious as to what the down side of this process might be.

The downside is that the best employees are under age undocumented sex workers that they get hooked on drugs so they'll be more productive.


What's the downside again?
 
2022-01-25 1:06:10 PM  
THere's also cobalt in vitamin B12, so they could alo extract it FROM THE DEAD.

"Lithium batteries......are made out of PEOPLE!"
 
2022-01-25 1:11:38 PM  
"startup" + "unique solution" + "more sustainable" + "and cheaper, too"
=
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2022-01-25 1:37:31 PM  

Psychopusher: Actually, dealing with spent lithium ion batteries in general is a huge issue given how they've been used in an exponentially increasing number of things over the past 15+ years.


Looks like the process is running on small Li-ion batteries, the kind that get thrown in the trash for lack of a good way to re-process them.  EV batteries are less of a problem because they arrive in large, uniform batches making it simpler to re-process. There are already several plants in the US that can do that.  But a simpler, cheaper process is always welcome.
 
2022-01-25 1:47:02 PM  

Nicholas D. Wolfwood: Very interesting.  I'm glad it seems to be getting peer review.

If this proves out, it is a very good thing for us and for the planet.  I'm generally skeptical of things that appear to have no down side, and am curious as to what the down side of this process might be.


"An... umm... an orphan's heart."
 
2022-01-25 1:48:40 PM  

Psychopusher: Nicholas D. Wolfwood: Very interesting.  I'm glad it seems to be getting peer review.

If this proves out, it is a very good thing for us and for the planet.  I'm generally skeptical of things that appear to have no down side, and am curious as to what the down side of this process might be.

I'm sure there's going to be waste product(s) involved, but as long as the upside is better than the downside, this could be revolutionary for the rechargeable battery industry.  It's one of the biggest sticking points with the switch to EVs, dealing with the increasing E-waste of spent batteries.  Actually, dealing with spent lithium ion batteries in general is a huge issue given how they've been used in an exponentially increasing number of things over the past 15+ years.


Yeah, quite a few companies have been getting around to this. Problem for this one is they are a late entry with only table scraps left. Li-cycle got a string of deals with a lot of big names in the electronics and auto industry last year for both scrapping and supplying materials. And as a public company who went through a merger they had to prove the tech worked to a load of people
 
2022-01-25 1:49:35 PM  

natazha: Psychopusher: Actually, dealing with spent lithium ion batteries in general is a huge issue given how they've been used in an exponentially increasing number of things over the past 15+ years.

Looks like the process is running on small Li-ion batteries, the kind that get thrown in the trash for lack of a good way to re-process them.  EV batteries are less of a problem because they arrive in large, uniform batches making it simpler to re-process. There are already several plants in the US that can do that.  But a simpler, cheaper process is always welcome.


Yep, this is for phone batteries, EV batteries already have a large installed recycling base.

Fun Fact: about 10% of Li-ion batteries fail at the factory during the first charge cycle. Those batteries are immediately recycled. Last year about 2 million EV's were made which means that about 200,000 EV battery packs were recycled last year from initial production. There might have been as many 5,000 battery packs that reach end of life last year. For at least the next ten years, recycling of failed batteries will be far larger than any recycling of end of life batteries.

These guys are in fourth or fifth place in this business. Redwood Materials and Springwave have been operating for years.
 
2022-01-25 2:10:55 PM  

pheelix: "Not many people were working on [battery] recycling," says Wang. "But today, lithium battery recycling is one of the hottest topics in the battery field."

I interpret this comment FTFA in the most literal sense, and wonder how they mitigate the risk of burning the whole place down when they shred things that tend to catch fire, melt and/or explode when shorted out.


Ever want to be scared of your laptop?  Research lithium ion battery failure modes.
 
2022-01-25 2:25:58 PM  
Black Mass is farking metal.

Literally.  It's... it's an alkali... metal.

I'll go now.
 
2022-01-25 2:31:16 PM  

Nicholas D. Wolfwood: Very interesting.  I'm glad it seems to be getting peer review.

If this proves out, it is a very good thing for us and for the planet.  I'm generally skeptical of things that appear to have no down side, and am curious as to what the down side of this process might be.


The downside of most physical separation processes, and of dissolving metal-bearing substances and then forcing them to recondense in this manner (which actually is a method of purification dating back to the 1400s before science was a thing, that's probably what the "alchemy" reference is about) is high energy cost and toxic byproducts.

In this case, though, the most toxic product is the thing you're recovering (the lithium) so by optimizing the process itself you'd be in a sense reducing one of the usual downsides as well.  The solvents and such that end up as waste are also almost certainly toxic, but potentially not anywhere near as hazardous as the unrecycled battery.

... no way around this being heavy on energy requirements, though.  The indirect carbon footprint etc of this by way of power draw is almost certainly enormous.  Though in the same way it works with Aluminum recycling, probably an order of magnitude lower than the extraction process for new materials, so if you're making a new battery anyway there's essentially zero downside to using recycled material.

pheelix: I interpret this comment FTFA in the most literal sense, and wonder how they mitigate the risk of burning the whole place down when they shred things that tend to catch fire, melt and/or explode when shorted out.


The recycling process seems like it's super high-temperature regardless, but even if it wasn't the answer is literally just "insulated containers".  Combined with depriving the materials of oxygen when disassembling them.  Both of these are super common, easy stuff to do in a manufacturing context, and mechanical breakdown of basically anything is typically done far from people and surrounded by concrete.  Even with paper/glass recycling there ain't a guy standing there poking the stuff with a stick from a meter away when it's being hacked up, man.
 
2022-01-25 2:51:55 PM  

Jim_Callahan: Nicholas D. Wolfwood: Very interesting.  I'm glad it seems to be getting peer review.

If this proves out, it is a very good thing for us and for the planet.  I'm generally skeptical of things that appear to have no down side, and am curious as to what the down side of this process might be.

The downside of most physical separation processes, and of dissolving metal-bearing substances and then forcing them to recondense in this manner (which actually is a method of purification dating back to the 1400s before science was a thing, that's probably what the "alchemy" reference is about) is high energy cost and toxic byproducts.

In this case, though, the most toxic product is the thing you're recovering (the lithium) so by optimizing the process itself you'd be in a sense reducing one of the usual downsides as well.  The solvents and such that end up as waste are also almost certainly toxic, but potentially not anywhere near as hazardous as the unrecycled battery.

... no way around this being heavy on energy requirements, though.  The indirect carbon footprint etc of this by way of power draw is almost certainly enormous.  Though in the same way it works with Aluminum recycling, probably an order of magnitude lower than the extraction process for new materials, so if you're making a new battery anyway there's essentially zero downside to using recycled material.

pheelix: I interpret this comment FTFA in the most literal sense, and wonder how they mitigate the risk of burning the whole place down when they shred things that tend to catch fire, melt and/or explode when shorted out.

The recycling process seems like it's super high-temperature regardless, but even if it wasn't the answer is literally just "insulated containers".  Combined with depriving the materials of oxygen when disassembling them.  Both of these are super common, easy stuff to do in a manufacturing context, and mechanical breakdown of basically anything is typically done far from people and surroun ...


Thank you, and thanks to natazha, lifeslammer, and ExYank for your answers.

I'm learning things.  I could have probably dug all this out on my own, but learning it from Farkers is more fun.
 
2022-01-25 2:59:34 PM  

Olympic Trolling Judge: Black Mass is farking metal.


You're not wrong.

BLACK MASS "Nothing Is Sacred"
Youtube bWOc-WqKOSo
 
2022-01-25 3:17:18 PM  

I am Tom Joad's Complete Lack of Surprise: Nicholas D. Wolfwood: Very interesting.  I'm glad it seems to be getting peer review.

If this proves out, it is a very good thing for us and for the planet.  I'm generally skeptical of things that appear to have no down side, and am curious as to what the down side of this process might be.

"An... umm... an orphan's heart."


Does it have to be an orphan? Or can we use any child traumatized by separation and isolation?
 
2022-01-25 3:34:11 PM  
Not seeing Calcination, Dissolution, Separation, Conjunction, Fermentation, Distillation, and Coagulation. The "Black Mass" might be Dissolution, Conjunction, or Fermentation
 
2022-01-25 3:36:54 PM  
So call it chemchemy.

Or chemcheminychemcheminychemchemchereeimy.

Just leave me alone.
 
2022-01-25 4:53:12 PM  
Alchemy = take some gold and turn it into *less* gold
 
2022-01-25 5:04:15 PM  

Jim_Callahan: Nicholas D. Wolfwood: Very interesting.  I'm glad it seems to be getting peer review.

If this proves out, it is a very good thing for us and for the planet.  I'm generally skeptical of things that appear to have no down side, and am curious as to what the down side of this process might be.

The downside of most physical separation processes, and of dissolving metal-bearing substances and then forcing them to recondense in this manner (which actually is a method of purification dating back to the 1400s before science was a thing, that's probably what the "alchemy" reference is about) is high energy cost and toxic byproducts.

In this case, though, the most toxic product is the thing you're recovering (the lithium) so by optimizing the process itself you'd be in a sense reducing one of the usual downsides as well.  The solvents and such that end up as waste are also almost certainly toxic, but potentially not anywhere near as hazardous as the unrecycled battery.

... no way around this being heavy on energy requirements, though.  The indirect carbon footprint etc of this by way of power draw is almost certainly enormous.  Though in the same way it works with Aluminum recycling, probably an order of magnitude lower than the extraction process for new materials, so if you're making a new battery anyway there's essentially zero downside to using recycled material.

pheelix: I interpret this comment FTFA in the most literal sense, and wonder how they mitigate the risk of burning the whole place down when they shred things that tend to catch fire, melt and/or explode when shorted out.

The recycling process seems like it's super high-temperature regardless, but even if it wasn't the answer is literally just "insulated containers".  Combined with depriving the materials of oxygen when disassembling them.  Both of these are super common, easy stuff to do in a manufacturing context, and mechanical breakdown of basically anything is typically done far from people and surroun ...


You missed the most fundamental fact about battery chemicals. They are pairs of  carefully engineered nanoparticles.

The one thing that you never want to do is dissolve them in a solvent, that would destroy most of their value. What is going on here is suspension or dispersion in water. Once the nanoparticles are in water, they are easy to separate the two different particles because they have very different physical and electrical properties.

By shredding the structure of the battery while in water, there is no electrical pathway to start a thermal runaway and even if there is, the water puts it out and disperses the reactive materials. Essentially, by the time the chemicals can mix enough to start burning, they are already flooded with water. Run the water/shredded battery mix through a sieve and all of the copper, aluminum and plastic bits of the structure are separated for ordinary recycling. The mixed nanoparticle slurry (black mass) is then separated, each company has their own method, usually electrical or density based. The two chemicals/particles are ready to put into a new battery. The water is then returned to the grinder for the next batch.

No toxic solvents or byproducts, no massive power requirements, no pollution.

The danger for Li-ion recycling is the old cellphone/laptop type batteries that can catch fire just sitting in a pile while you are gathering them for recycling. I suspect the danger of transporting those old nickle/cobalt style batteries will prevent any effective recycling for most of those type of batteries. Fortunately the newer chemistrys will end that problem.
 
2022-01-25 5:54:35 PM  

Marcos P: They are making a black mass in Mass.
I hope it's in Salem.


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