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Author: Subject: Lithium extraction from used button batteries?
RogueRose
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Lithium extraction from used button batteries?

I've looked into what the components of lithium button cells, mainly the CR3032 3v, and it is lithium and MnO2. Now that is what is in a new battery but I'm guessing it is lithium oxide in the used batteries. I'm wondering if it would be possible to extract the lithium from the batteries by breaking them apart or cutting them in half and soaking in water.

The Li2O should react with water to form LiOH which should dissolve and everything else is either MnO2, stainless steel or a membrane (cellulose, plastic or something).

I know this wouldn't be very worthwhile for a few batteries but if 5-10+lbs of them are available then I'm thinking there will be a fair amount of recoverable LiOH which is fairly soluble in methanol.

I am kind of curious how much lithium there is in a standard li-ion 18650 battery as those are extremely plentiful as "dead" batteries. The problem would be cutting them open and removing the rolled electrodes. I've seen that they can be soaked in water to extract the lithium.
Sulaiman
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I don' know if it helps but lithium 123 cells have a nice piece of lithium foil;

CAUTION : Hobby Chemist, not Professional or even Amateur
RogueRose
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 Quote: Originally posted by Sulaiman I don' know if it helps but lithium 123 cells have a nice piece of lithium foil; http://www.sciencemadness.org/talk/viewthread.php?tid=86157&...

That might. The thing is that here recyclers charge anywhere from $1.50-$2.50/lb to take you lithium batteries, so it costs $$to dispose of them. Often times one can pick them up for free if not even taking a few$$ with them while doing so.

This is strange because they used to pay $.50-1.75/lb for lithium based batteries just 1-2 years ago and NiCd's were selling for$.30-80/lb and not they can cost over \$10/lb to dispose of them!

I know some recyclers with gaylords weighing 2-4 tons with lithium or NiCd batteries sitting in them, talk about a liability, these liabilities are kept off the books, so it looks like they are doing better than they are financially. It seems big here in "charity" recyclers (501.C.3's - non-for-profits) where they siphon off cash and leave a huge liability at the end when they declare bankruptcy.

So I'd like to take some of these and maybe get paid at the same time and extract the Li from them. I'm thinking a bandsaw, chop saw (with a thin metal cutting disc) or even a shear press that will cut 10's of them in half lengthwise in one cut. Then pull out the rolled electrodes, soak in H2O then extract Li!
j_sum1

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Mood: Metastable, and that's good enough.

One thing to consider when extracting Li is that the carbonate is surprisingly insoluble. This therefore is a good method for separating from other (especially alkali) metals that might be present. I see a possibility for crush/cut, soak and stir, filter, then precipitate with Na2CO3. Filter again and you have probably 95%+ recovery of Li with little else present.

If you are interested, take a look at the latest offering from sum_lab:
A primer on metals and non-metals with at least one novel experiment.
RogueRose
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 Quote: Originally posted by j_sum1 One thing to consider when extracting Li is that the carbonate is surprisingly insoluble. This therefore is a good method for separating from other (especially alkali) metals that might be present. I see a possibility for crush/cut, soak and stir, filter, then precipitate with Na2CO3. Filter again and you have probably 95%+ recovery of Li with little else present.

Thanks for the suggestion! I was thinking of bubbling air through it with the CO2 in it but Na2CO3 is much faster.

On top of all the lithium there is also graphite powder in the 18650 cells as well as copper and aluminum sheets. Separating the Cu and Al might be difficult by chemical means but I'm thinking of using a forge which might melt the Al and possibly alloy the Cu with it, and it definitely would if I added Zn into it to make a Zinc Aluminum alloy (which is an awesome alloy) that also has copper. I'm still trying to figure out the best method to separate the Cu and Al as the only way to do it is to cut the ends off and cut down the middle, then unroll the electrodes.

These are the electrodes in a 18650, I removed the 2 plastic membranes that are just as long and covered in graphite on both pieces (maybe both sides of each as well). The Cu is 36" long and Al is 32" long and each are 2 3/8" wide. IDK how thick the "foil" is or what gauge it is, I'll have to do some tests and stack like 50-100 pieces to get a measurement and then divide to get the thickness. I'm guessing it's 2-3mil as it feels about the same thickness as plastic of the same thickness.

I can cut the batteries down the length completely in half with a bandsaw (about 10-20 seconds a battery) but that would destroy the lengths of the foil and make them vary in length from 1.1" long down to ~.1" - all at 2.375" wide though.

I guess I could make AlCl3 by dissolving in HCl to give H2 and Cl2 gas leaving the Cu basically untouched. Of course this would all be after soaking in water to extract any lithium compounds, rinse, then add the ~10% HCl.

Can anyone think of a use of the foils like this?
draculic acid69
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The button batteries would have a strip of lithium metal in them wouldn't they? And I think thionyl chloride as the electrolyte.id recommend taking apart under toluene or xylene and keeping the metal as it is in its most valuable form.apparently this is what speed cooks used to do peel the batteries.also the Russians do it to make krokodil which is disturbingly worse thing than hillbilly meth.except they keep the thionyl chloride.if your pulling apart batteries at a large scale trying to keep these two chemicals as is would be most profitable.the price of the carbonate or hydroxide isn't much compared to the metal.
wg48temp9
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 Quote: Originally posted by RogueRose I am kind of curious how much lithium there is in a standard li-ion 18650 battery as those are extremely plentiful as "dead" batteries. The problem would be cutting them open and removing the rolled electrodes. I've seen that they can be soaked in water to extract the lithium.

One source gave the electrochemical equivalent of lithium as 3.86 Ah/g and a spec on the 18650 gave its capacity as 2.6Ah and a mass of 46.6g. So the battery must contain at least 2.6/3.86 =0.684g of lithium. or 1.4% of the battery mass is lithium. That's not very much.

i am wg48 but not on my usual pc hence the temp handle.
draculic acid69
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If you can find a non profit ewaste recycling center you could get them cheap from them.maybs even free.they are a good source for electronic scrap for recovering precious metals.and lithium

 Sciencemadness Discussion Board » Fundamentals » Beginnings » Lithium extraction from used button batteries? Select A Forum Fundamentals   » Chemistry in General   » Organic Chemistry   » Reagents and Apparatus Acquisition   » Beginnings   » Responsible Practices   » Miscellaneous   » The Wiki Special topics   » Technochemistry   » Energetic Materials   » Biochemistry   » Radiochemistry   » Computational Models and Techniques   » Prepublication Non-chemistry   » Forum Matters   » Legal and Societal Issues   » Detritus   » Test Forum