Technologies for producing battery raw materialsOutotec can provide technology and equipment for the entire lithium, nickel and cobalt production chain from the mine to battery materials with project scope ranging from equipment packages to turnkey plant delivery.
Nickel, Cobalt, and Lithium as battery raw materials
Nickel, cobalt and lithium are key metals used in today’s active cathode materials and the chemistries deployed in high performance batteries. Highest demand growth is seen in the batteries used for portable devices, energy storage and especially in electric mobility, typically basing on NCM and NCA Lithium-ion chemistries.
Nickel and cobalt can be found from different type of ore bodies with most typical being lateritic and sulfidic ores. Quite often these mineralogies hold both nickel and cobalt, but cobalt is often also found together with copper. Both metals can also be found from several refined raw materials, like nickel matte or sulfide, from which the battery raw material refining can start.
The two main raw material sources of lithium are the brines from salars and the rock-forming lithium minerals, typically spodumene.
Outotec can provide technologies for all the different minerals processing and refining steps of these raw materials.
Nickel and Cobalt processing
The processing configuration of nickel and cobalt is defined by the raw materials from which the refining starts as well as what type of end-products are targeted. After needed minerals processing and pyrometallurgical refining steps, the hydrometallurgical processing typically consists of material handling, leaching, solution purification and battery metal or battery chemical production. The amount of impurities and other valuable metals in the starting material dictate the number of steps needed downstream from leaching to meet the purity requirements of the products used in the preparation of active cathode materials. High purity requirements are typical for these metals when produced for battery manufacturing purposes.
Outotec has several processing alternatives for nickel and cobalt raw materials, ranging from pyrometallurgical to hydrometallurgical approaches and combinations thereof. Our experts, having broad and deep minerals processing and metallurgical industry knowhow, can offer our customers optimized and reliable process design based on their particular raw materials.Outotec can provide all the key process technologies for nickel and cobalt raw material production
Outotec expertise provides the path to optimized solutions and complete plants for the production of high-purity lithium salts. Our innovative and proven calcination, leaching, purification and lithium recovery technologies cover the whole range of production, from raw materials to battery grade lithium products: most importantly Lithium Hydroxide Monohydrate and Lithium Carbonate.
Outotec’s proprietary technology offers a short-cut process concept for spodumene concentrates: direct alkaline leach process for lithium extraction and solubilization, followed by crystallization of the lithium salt product. Furthermore, the leach process is environmentally sustainable: acid & sulphate free, without undesired crystallized salts or by-products, producing inert & neutral mineral residue for re-use or disposal.Outotec Lithium Process from Spodumene ore to concentrate Outotec Lithium Hydroxide Process
Other metals needed in battery manufacturing
Along the critical metals Nickel, Cobalt and Lithium, also many other metals play an important role in the battery manufacturing chain, either in the battery chemistry or in other components like current distributors or permanent magnets. Most typical metals are aluminum, manganese, copper, magnesium and iron. Also new chemistries for different type of batteries evolve fastly and provide up-potential for metals like vanadium.
Our portfolio of technologies can enable the recovery also of these metals, whether they are the main product from the raw materials or side streams from production.