Recovery of metals from waste lithium ion battery leachates using biogenic hydrogen sulfide

Giles Calvert, Anna H. Kaksonen, Ka Yu Cheng, Jonovan Van Yken, Barbara Chang, Naomi J. Boxall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Lithium ion battery (LIB) waste is increasing globally and contains an abundance of valuable metals that can be recovered for re-use. This study aimed to evaluate the recovery of metals from LIB waste leachate using hydrogen sulfide generated by a consortium of sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) in a lactate-fed fluidised bed reactor (FBR). The microbial community analysis showed Desulfovibrio as the most abundant genus in a dynamic and diverse bioreactor consortium. During periods of biogenic hydrogen sulfide production, the average dissolved sulfide concentration was 507 mg L-1 and the average volumetric sulfate reduction rate was 278 mg L-1 d-1. Over 99% precipitation efficiency was achieved for Al, Ni, Co, and Cu using biogenic sulfide and NaOH, accounting for 96% of the metal value contained in the LIB waste leachate. The purity indices of the precipitates were highest for Co, being above 0.7 for the precipitate at pH 10. However, the process was not selective for individual metals due to simultaneous precipitation and the complexity of the metal content of the LIB waste. Overall, the process facilitated the production of high value mixed metal precipitates, which could be purified further or used as feedstock for other processes, such as the production of steel.

Original languageEnglish
Article number563
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2019


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