Rare metals: Mecaware wants to green production



In Europe, 40,000 tonnes of lithium-ion cells reach the end of their life each year. We are only able to recycle 17,000 tonnes of it and, again, with expensive and polluting processes. », Notes Arnaud Villers d’Arbouet. “ While by 2030, we will collapse under 150 to 200,000 tons annually of this waste of electric cars, bicycles, scooters and other wireless devices “.

The president of Mecaware wants to revolutionize the production of critical metals with a new technology for recycling end-of-life cathodes, which is much more competitive: “ 30 to 50% less expensive than current techniques, and 20 to 30% less expensive than the cost of these metals », He assures. This is the concept of “ the green ingot factory: the production of a valuable metal, included in a circular economy and produced ecologically “.

Three patents

Through Satt Pulsalys, co-shareholder, Mecaware holds the exploitation rights of three patents resulting from the work of Professor Julien Leclaire, started at the Aix-Marseille faculty in 2012 and completed at Lyon-1 at the ICBMS department, involving eight research establishments, including the CNRS and INSA. “ It’s molecular chemistry akin to hydrometallurgy », Details this mining engineer who applied to carry this technology transfer, after a career in waste.

The principle ? The powdered cathode, solubilized in a bath of amines and CO2 captured in industrial fumes, is crossed by an injection of bioethanol to cause a change in polarity and perform a dissociated, selective extraction of the different metals. Nickel, cobalt, lithium or manganese precipitate in the form of carbonates or salts.

99% rate

There are about 150 kilos of cathode in an electric car, one third of the mass of the battery », Specifies Arnaud Villers d’Arbouet. The Mecaware process, without acid, petrochemical solvent, or effluent to be reprocessed – in a closed loop -, gives a “99%” recovery rate, he assures.

In the coming months, the start-up will have to raise 5 million in two stages: 2 for its demonstrator installed next year at La Doua, and 3 for a pilot unit. Before the construction of a factory with a capacity of 5,000 tonnes, which will be operational in 2024, an investment of tens of millions in the Vallée de la Chimie.

Technology

Creation date : 2020

President : Arnaud Villers d’Arbouet

Effective : 4 people

Sector: recycling

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