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first of a kind commercial Compact system for the efficient Recovery Of CObalt Designed with novel Integrated LEading technologies

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - CROCODILE (first of a kind commercial Compact system for the efficient Recovery Of CObalt Designed with novel Integrated LEading technologies)

Reporting period: 2018-06-01 to 2019-11-30

The CROCODILE project will showcase innovative metallurgical systems based on advanced pyro-, hydro-, bio-, iono- and electrometallurgy technologies for the recovery of cobalt (Co) and the production of Co metal and upstream products from a wide variety of secondary and primary European resources. CROCODILE will demonstrate the synergetic approaches of the considered technologies and the integration of the innovative metallurgical systems within existing recovery processes of Co from primary and secondary sources at different locations in Europe, to enhance their efficiency, improve their economic and environmental values, and will provide a zero-waste strategy for important waste streams rich in Co such as batteries. Additionally, CROCODILE will produce a first of a kind economically and environmentally viable mobile commercial metallurgical system based on advanced hydrometallurgical and electrochemical technologies able to produce Co metal from black mass containing Co from different sources of waste streams such as spent batteries and catalysts.
The key objectives of the project are:
1) Build the CROCODILE 1st of its kind commercial compact mobile system with a capacity of up to 200kg of Co metal per day
2) Identify new secondary waste streams rich in cobalt
3) Optimise the pre-treatment step of secondary waste rich in Co by advanced mechanical, wet mechanical process and pyrometallurgy
4) Fine tune the CROCODILE recovery process, from economic and environmental point of view, resulting in Co purity of 99.95% - 98% metal recovery from black mass
5) Scale up the bio-processing route for primary resources using a 100 L bioreactor
6) Develop a detailed market analysis and business models
7) Screen all the regulatory barriers and provide a bottleneck analysis and a regulatory roadmap
8) Engage with civil society that includes local and international NGOs
Main results achieved so far:
Objective 1: Preliminary design and sizing of equipment based in technical and economical assessment has been evaluated. Final design on hold waiting for last laboratory results but expected at M20. Conceptual and basic engineering design to be completed for M25 and detailed engineering to be developed until M30 as per Gannt. Expected dates for construction of the mobile commercial system to be started from M30 to its completion at M36.
Objective 2: During these first 18 months of the project, partner COM surveyed cobalt anomalies within its own recycling activities. Some metal streams demonstrated to contain some minor amount of cobalt with a high potential of upgrading.
Objective 3: COM is working on surveying its metal scraps in order to identify the Co-baring scraps. Co has been concentrated by Task 2.3 partners in different ways. Co content has been increased up to 37 wt.% in products which are provided by Task 2.3 partners for Li-consumer batteries whereas 14.4% for EV-batteries.
Objective 4: With the knowledge gained, TEC is able to leach more than 90% of cobalt in all the samples, and >98% in most of them, by selecting the optimum process parameters. The solvent extraction process has been fine-tuned and adjusted by KUL (stripped Co solution has a purity of 96.7% with Li being the impurity). So far, only batch experiments have been carried out, so it is not possible to determine the efficiency in each stage, but the stripping is quantitative (i.e. 99%). SIN has carried out EW in synthetic solutions, thus giving high purity Cobalt.
Objective 5: Although, further optimization has still to be carried out regarding gas supply and acid consumption, in general, 28-43 mg/L of Co was obtained in lab-scale bioleaching tests carried out to date using LAR 4 sample (Ag Ioannis mine).
Objective 6: The main technologies that will be brought to the market by CROCODILE will be the CROCODILE (mobile) system for the treatment of black mass from secondary waste streams, and the novel physical treatment technologies to increase the amount of cobalt in the black mass. The results recently obtained from the stakeholder analysis (deliverable D8.1) will also be used to identify the potential investors, whose business can benefit from the CROCODILE innovation.
Objective 7: CROCODILE will screen the regulations affecting its value chain, resulting in the release of a bottleneck analysis report highlighting the best practices to incentivise consumers handing in their waste batteries for recycling. The partners of CROCODILE acting as collectors in the value chain will use those models to exceed the 45% goal in collection rate of portable batteries.
Objective 8: Three meetings have been organized in collaboration with several other EU H2020 projects (e.g. NEMO, TARANTULA). Key experts from private sector, governmental organisations, research institutions, NGOs, international organisations and academia discussed the drivers and barriers for SLO in Europe. Next to this top-down strategy, a bottom-up activity is being developed where specific partners organize local events with citizens living in the neighbourhood of heavy industry operations.
The CROCODILE system will be based on the combination of the state of the art pyrometallurgy, bioleaching, deep eutectic solvent leaching, liquid-liquid extraction and EW, realising a unique architecture of high-performance processing.
CROCODILE will contribute to the expected impact as detailed in the DoA (Section 2.1 Annex 1, Part B). The CROCODILE partners will focus their activities to recover cobalt from EU resources such as electric vehicle batteries in the automotive sector, portable Lithium Ion batteries mainly in the consumer electronics sector, Co-bearing nickel laterite ores in the mining sector and other sources (e.g. catalysts).
CROCODILE actively contributes to the following impacts mentioned in the work programme:
• Contribute to achieving the targets of the EIP on Raw Materials, particularly in terms of innovative pilot actions for innovative production of raw materials
• Improve economic viability and market potential that will be gained through the pilot, leading to expanding the business across the EU after the project is finished
Update: The preliminary conclusion of our market analysis in WP9 is that mobile plants will not be easy to sell or rent. Most black mass “producers” will have much higher outputs of black mass at the end of our project (e.g. ACC approx. 3.000 tons per year or Saubermacher approx. 5.000 tons per year) and therefore would need several mobile plants permanently. But putting several mobile plants permanently on one location does not make sense at all. Therefore, it is more logic to install one stationary plant with a much bigger capacity tailored to the output of the black mass of the specific plant ideally at the same location (approx. 10-30 locations in Europe alone).
• Optimise metal production […] from primary and/or secondary resources, while keeping competitive process performance in terms of resource and energy efficiency
• Push the EU to the forefront in the area of metals processing and refining technologies and solutions through generated know how […]
• Create added value and new jobs in metallurgy, equipment manufacturing, downstream industries
• Improve the environmental […], health and safety performance of the operations
• Improve the awareness, acceptance and trust of society in a sustainable raw materials production in EU