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A unique Lead Acid Battery (LAB) recycling technology to reduce CO2 emissions by 89%, reduce waste by 81%, and transform the battery recycling industry

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - NUOVOpb (A unique Lead Acid Battery (LAB) recycling technology to reduce CO2 emissions by 89%, reduce waste by 81%, and transform the battery recycling industry)

Reporting period: 2017-08-01 to 2018-04-30

Lead Acid Batteries (LABs) remain the most economical battery technology. With over 400 million units sold each year, they can supply high currents and maintain a large power to weight ratio whilst being low cost, safe, proven and reliable. LABs are the primary battery type used in high volume applications in the automotive (fuel, electric, hybrid electric), traction (e.g. fork lift trucks) and uninterruptible power supply (UPS)/telecom sectors.

The global LAB market is expected to grow by 59% (2014-22) to €71.6 billion by 2022, with the demand for waste management of toxic battery waste also increasing. This growth will inevitably place great demand for more energy-efficient, eco-friendly recycling methods.

To address this, Aurelius Environmental will commercialise NUOVOpb. NUOVOpb is a low energy, clean, low-cost, scalable method of recycling LABs, based on a unique hydrometallurgical process that transforms spent battery paste into a superior form of battery-ready product reducing the environmental impact of the paste recycling process, consuming far less energy than current recycling technologies. T

The scalability and low-cost of NUOVOpb make it ideally suitable for localised implementation, avoiding hazardous waste transportation. The process will lead to production of superior battery paste, which in addition to the environmental impact can also produce recycled batteries which can potentially outperform batteries made from virgin lead metal.

Our product will be high-quality LAB-ready lead oxide for battery manufacturing and will meet EC priorities by addressing resource efficiency, sustainable supply of raw materials and by driving the circular economy.
The overall objective of NUOVOpb is to develop a new LAB paste recycling process which is energy efficient, non-polluting and scalable. The outcome will be a high-quality LAB-ready lead oxide for battery manufacturing, commercialisation and to produce plants able to process more than 10,000 tonnes battery paste a year and by 2024 operate directly and through licensing of 18 facilities worldwide which will process 490,000 tonnes of waste LABs (6% of the global waste LAB market) avoiding 196,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year, from which AEL will secure annually a €206 million revenue, €54 million profit, which is a 41x ROI for the EC and will create 200 jobs within AEL

During the 1st Reporting Period, AEL have scaled up the hydrometallurgical process and compared the results to laboratory leaching experiments carried out. The individual steps have been reviewed to assess differences in large and small-scale processing.

Analytical protocols were developed/optimised to establish chemical composition and monitor the presence and/or removal of trace element and compound impurities. Laboratory research and pilot scale testing has been designed/executed in parallel, with the aim of underpinning the commercial pilot plants with steps that are reproducible, reliable and defined to produce high-quality lead oxide.

Further developments include testing in the laboratory parameters which influence the conversion of spent lead paste to lead citrate, translating the outcomes of the reagent reduction exercise to a scalable, reproducible process, a variety of pre-processing steps were looked at to increase leaching efficiency, a variety of mixers were also tested for the leaching step.
The main innovation of NUOVOpb is the novel process which transforms waste LABs (Lead Acid Batteries) into high-value, LAB ready products via an efficient, clean and cost-effective method. Our technology will transform the global battery recycling industry, which has an expected value of €9.5 billion in 2024.

The significant benefit for end users of NUOVOpb is the 22% improvement in energy capacity and 50% increase in battery life. The higher energy capacity and ability to customise its structure will open new markets for LAB use, by being both LAB ready (a secondary process can add as much as €250/tonne PbO, consuming 350 MWh/10,000 LABs processed) and having a longer life thereby reducing replacement costs. NUOVOpb is also 30% more efficient than producing PbO from virgin lead, and 50% more efficient than producing it through secondary smelting.

NUOVOpb will achieve >60% more gross profit than pyrometallurgical processes by creating value-added products such as LAB-ready PbO and sodium sulphate; eliminate the need to control SOx and NOx emissions with expensive abatement technology; and by producing 5,000 MWh energy that can be captured and used in another part of the system.

Pilot plants in smaller territories and areas where pyrometallurgy is unsustainable, will be successful through processing small quantities (as low as 1,000 tonnes per year) and transport costs will be reduced by being situated close to waste LABs. Operating a 25,000 tonnes/yr plant, which is anticipated as being the average size plant sold, a licensee will see a payback on investments within 10.8 months. On a 10,000 tonnes/yr plant, the payback would be within 1 year and 3 months.