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Upcycling Real Waste Mixed Lithium-Ion Batteries by Simultaneous Production of rGO and Lithium-Manganese-Rich Cathode Material

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journal contribution
posted on 24.09.2021, 15:36 by Pier Giorgio Schiavi, Robertino Zanoni, Mario Branchi, Camilla Marcucci, Corrado Zamparelli, Pietro Altimari, Maria Assunta Navarra, Francesca Pagnanelli
The direct synthesis of high-value products from end-of-life Li-ion batteries (LIBs), avoiding the complex and costly separation of the different elements, can be reached through a competitive recycling strategy. Here, we propose the simultaneous synthesis of reduced graphene oxide (rGO) and lithium-manganese-rich (Li1.2Mn0.55Ni0.15Co0.1O2 - LMR) cathode material from end-of-life LIBs. The electrode powder recovered after LIBs mechanical pretreatment was directly subjected to the Hummers’ method. This way, quantitative extraction of the target metals (Co, Ni, Mn) and oxidation of graphite to graphene oxide (GO) were simultaneously achieved, and a Mn-rich metal solution resulted after GO filtration, owing to the use of KMnO4 as an oxidizing agent. This solution, which would routinely constitute a heavy-metal liquid waste, was directly employed for the synthesis of Li1.2Mn0.55Ni0.15Co0.1O2 cathode material. XPS measurements demonstrate the presence in the synthesized LMR of Cu2+, SO42–, and SiO44– impurities, which were previously proposed as effective doping species and can thus explain the improved electrochemical performance of recovered LMR. The GO recovered by filtration was reduced to rGO by using ascorbic acid. To evaluate the role of graphite lithiation/delithiation during battery cycling on rGO production, the implemented synthesis procedure was replicated starting from commercial graphite and from the graphite recovered by a consolidated acidic–reductive leaching procedure for metals extraction. Raman and XPS analysis disclosed that cyclic lithiation/delithiation of graphite during battery life cycle facilitates the graphite exfoliation and thus significantly increases conversion to rGO.