Selective cobalt and nickel electrodeposition for lithium-ion battery recycling through integrated electrolyte and interface control

Kwiyong Kim, Darien Raymond, Riccardo Candeago, Xiao Su

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Molecularly-selective metal separations are key to sustainable recycling of Li-ion battery electrodes. However, metals with close reduction potentials present a fundamental challenge for selective electrodeposition, especially for critical elements such as cobalt and nickel. Here, we demonstrate the synergistic combination of electrolyte control and interfacial design to achieve molecular selectivity for cobalt and nickel during potential-dependent electrodeposition. Concentrated chloride allows for the speciation control via distinct formation of anionic cobalt chloride complex (CoCl42-), while maintaining nickel in the cationic form ([Ni(H2O)5Cl]+). Furthermore, functionalizing electrodes with a positively charged polyelectrolyte (i.e., poly(diallyldimethylammonium) chloride) changes the mobility of CoCl42- by electrostatic stabilization, which tunes cobalt selectivity depending on the polyelectrolyte loading. This strategy is applied for the multicomponent metal recovery from commercially-sourced lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide electrodes. We report a final purity of 96.4 ± 3.1% and 94.1 ± 2.3% for cobalt and nickel, respectively. Based on a technoeconomic analysis, we identify the limiting costs arising from the background electrolyte, and provide a promising outlook of selective electrodeposition as an efficient separation approach for battery recycling.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalNature communications
Volume12
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Keywords

  • Batteries
  • Energy
  • Electrochemistry
  • Chemical engineering

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