Economic analysis of Li-ion battery recycling using hydrometallurgical processes

  • 1 Babeş-Bolyai University, Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Department of Chemical Engineering, Romania
  • 2 Babeş-Bolyai University, Interdisciplinary Research Institute on Bio Nano Sciences, Romania


In recent years, much attention has been paid to the recycling of Li-ion batteries (LIBs) [1, 2]. However, there are only few economic assessments on the recycling of LIBs even if, by 2030, it is possible to reach 2 million tons of spent LIBs/year worldwide [3, 4]. In this context, the present work aims to present a viable business model that is feasible and economically efficient and can be framed in a circular economic recycling technology of spent LIBs. The proposed business model uses literature data on the hydrometallurgical processing (HP) of spent LIBs. The business plan contains estimates of costs and revenues, and, also, estimates or projections concerning the state of the relevant markets and industries for the products resulting from spent LIBs.
Our work proposes a feasible and sustainable circular economy solution able to deliver critical materials such as cobalt, lithium, nickel, and copper for the supply chain of the LIBs manufacturing. From our estimate, valorising all recovered materials, the annual profit can reach around 600,000 $ for a commercial recycling plant that processes 125 tons/year of spent LIBs.



  1. Y. Yang, E. G. Okonkwo, G. Huang et al; Energy Storage Mater., 36, 186–212 (2021)
  2. A. Islam, S. Roy, M. A. Khan et al; J. Mol. Liq., 338, 116703 (2021)
  3. M. Walter, M. V. Kovalenko, K. V. Kravchyk ; New J. Chem., 44, 1677-1683 (2020)
  4. E. G Pinna, N. Toro, S. Gallegos et al; Materials, 15, 44 (2022)
  5. C. Zu; Y. Ren, F. Guo et al; Adv. Energy Sustainability Res., 2(10), 2100062 (2021)
  6. C. M. Costa, J. C. Barbosa, R. Gonçalves et al; Energy Storage Mater., 37, 433–465 (2021)
  7. J. Jiang, X. Zeng, J. Li; Appl. Mech. Mater., 768, 622–626 (2015)
  8. H. Pinegar, R. S. York; J. Sustain. Metall., 6, 142–160 (2020)
  9. Accessed 25.02.2022
  10. C. Zu; Y. Ren, F. Guo, H. Yu, H. Li; Adv. Energy Sustainability Res., 2(10), 2100062 (2021)
  11. Accessed 25.02.2022
  12. Y. Zhao; O. Pohl; A. I. Bhatt et al; Sustain. Chem., 2, 167-205 (2021)
  13. H. Pinegar, R. Y. Smith; J. Sustain. Met., 6,142-160 (2020)
  14. Accessed 20.02.2022
  15. N. Nitta, F. Wu, T. J. Lee et al; Mater. Today, 18(5), 252-264 (2015)
  16. J. Diekmann, C. Hanisch, L. Frobose, et al; J. Electrochem. Soc., 164, A6184-A6191 (2017)
  17. Y. Jian, Z. Zongliang, Z. Gang el al; Hydrometallurgy, 203, 105638 (2021)
  18. B. Makuza, Q. Tian, X. Guo el al; J. Power Sources, 491, 229622 (2021)
  19. J. Li, G. Wang, Z. Xu; J. Hazard. Mater., 302, 97-104 (2016)
  20. A. Boyden, V. K. Soo, M. Doolan; Procedia CIRP, 48, 188- 193 (2016)
  21. F. Wang, R. Sun, J. Xu, Z. Chen, M. Kang; RSC Advances, 6(88), 85303–85311 (2016)
  22. M. Buckley; Commercial Scale Recycling System for Lithium Ion Batteries in Australia, The University of Queensland, Australia (2018)
  23. I. A. Popescu, S. A. Dorneanu, R. Truță, P. Ilea, Studia Universitatis Babeș-Bolyai, Chemia (to be published)

Article full text

Download PDF