VFT has begun to evaluate fiber reactor technology for the separation of nickel and cobalt from an acidic leach liquor representative of a lithium-ion battery recycling process.
In preliminary experiments (Figure 2), a sulfate-based liquor with a total concentration of 1.0 g/L of cobalt and 1.0 g/L of nickel was stripped in a single pass of 57% of the cobalt while leaving 86% of the nickel behind. Selectivity of the system can be further improved by carefully monitoring acidity of the raffinate.
The regeneration of the organic extractant can be accomplished by stripping it with an acidic solution, recovering the cobalt selectively or leaving the extractant completely bare. This process is currently under development at VFT.