Lithium recovery and battery-grade materials production from European resources
LiCORNE aims to establish the first-ever Li supply chain in Europe. The goal is to increase the European Li processing and refining capacity for producing battery-grade chemicals from ores, brines, tailings and off-specification battery cathode materials. This supply chain encompasses five large primary resource owners (including one of the world leader in Li production) having resources of ~7.8 Mt lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE), in which 2.7 Mt LCE are located in Europe. The European primary resources that are considered in LiCORNE would be enough to supply ~3000 GWh of batteries (i.e., ~10 years to the expected 300 GWh/year production capacity in Europe by 2030). Additionally, the value chain includes a cathode manufacturer who will be able to reuse valuable Li, Co and Ni that will be recycled from waste cathode material, and one producer and distributor of battery-grade Li-chemicals. LiCORNE will investigate 14 different groundbreaking technologies that have been selected for their potential to operate at low CAPEX and OPEX, low carbon footprint, flexibility and industrial scalability. Those technologies are led by 8 top R&D centers in Europe to tackle the main bottlenecks in Li processing and recovery. During 2.5 years, R&D partners will investigate those technologies and bring their TRL from 2 to 4. After this phase, and guided by LCA and LCCA, the most promising technologies will be selected for upscaling to TRL5. During this phase a prototype system will be constructed and demonstrated at TRL5 to produce ~1 kg of battery-grade Li-chemicals (i.e., LiOH·H2O, Li2CO3 or Li-metal) from ores, brines, tailings and waste cathode material, with the recycling of Co and Ni from the latter. Results will be communicated and disseminated to a wide range of stakeholders and a first business model for a full and optimized Li supply chain in Europe will be established based on the results of the project and cost of Li produced.