Sustainable supply of battery minerals using lignin nanoparticles
Minerals for production of batteries is a critical factor for the change to a fossil free world. Ore contain different minerals, which are separated in flotation processes, where environmentally hazardous substances are used. The aim of BATTERFLAI is to replace several of these with non-toxic biobased and renewable lignin-based nanoparticles.
The main purpose of the BATTERFLAI project is to establish a sustainable value chain for European Battery minerals, based on the application of innovative, green technology on the flotation processes in European enrichment plants for, mainly Cu, Ni and Co. Non-toxic, biologically degradable nanoparticles of lignin will be used as collectors in the flotation processes for sulphide minerals of these metals.
Mineral flotation is the dominating process technique for the separation of different minerals. To release the different minerals the ore is wet milled to very small particles and is then fed to a stirred flotation tank, where a collector, a surface-active substance with one hydrophilic and one hydrophobic part, is added. The collector binds to certain minerals and makes them hydrophobic. When a foaming agent is added and air is pumped upwards through the tank a foam is formed which adsorbs the hydrophobic particles so that they follow the air-bubbles to the surface, where they are skimmed off. Minerals which have not bonded any collector will sink to the bottom and are separated there. Both these “concentrates” can then be further processed in proceeding flotation steps until materials with high enough purities are obtained.
Since Cu, Ni and Co are present in sulphide minerals such as pyrrhotite, pentlandite and chalcopyrite, the selectivity of these is a great challenge and affects the recovery and grade of the floated ore. To address these problems physicochemical properties such as critical coagulation concentration (CCC), hydrophobicity and zeta potential of the lignin will be optimized.
With an expected 5 – 10 times increase in demand for battery minerals until 2030, large amounts of flotation chemicals will be needed. The goal is to replace some of these chemicals with lignin and thus decrease the environmental impact.
RISE role in project
RISE is performing special analyses, mainly XRPD (X-Ray Powder Diffraction) and DVS (Dynamic Vapor Sorption) on untreated and treated minerals and is also a discussion partner. We will also train Ph D students in the analysis techniques XRPD and DVS.
2 691 280 Euro
Luleå Technical University(LTU), Luleå Technical University Business AB (LTU AB), ColloidTek Oy, Athen National Technical University (NTUA), KGMH Cuprum Ltd, KGMH Polska Miedz S.A., Hellas Gold S.A., Boliden AB, Institute of Non-ferrous Metals (INM)