photoTES-AMM, based in Singapore, is a major recycling company operating world-wide and one of the few players that recycles lithium-ion phosphate batteries (LFP). At the International Congress of Battery Recycling (ICBR) held in Geneva, Switzerland in September, the company talked about LFP batteries in its presentation.


LFP based batteries have many advantages such as low raw material cost, long life, low toxicity, and low risk of fire, making them suitable for second life use. On the other hand, the value of their cathode materials is very low for recycling.


LFP batteries were once thought to be out of the mainstream as the focus went to more energy-dense active materials such as NMC containing cobalt. However, they increased by 5% in global production from 20% in 2020 to 25% in 2021. This is due to the adoption of LFP for EVs by automakers such as VW, Ford and Tesla. Some predict this trend will continue in the future.


In addition, LFP, currently accounting for 25% of global production, is expected to generate a large amount of production scrap, which for example in the case of Germany is estimated to reach 15,600 tons by 2024. As the production scrap of LFP battery manufacture is expected to rise before batteries come to end of life, it is necessary to increase recycling capacities for LFP. However, as of now, except for the case of China, recycling capacity for LFP remains very low world-wide.


TES-AMM is engaging in developing recycling technologies for LFP batteries in Europe which has not yet developed their recycling capacity. The company purchased Recupyl, a French recycler in 2019 which possessed a patent of a hydrometallurgy process including LFP processing technology. It also invested in several facilities in Europe and Singapore and currently a project to further develop the recycling technology for LFP batteries is in progress.


MIRU asked some comment about the company’s LFP recycling to Dr. Farouk TEDJAR, Director of Innovation at TES-AMM at the ICBR conference.



Q: How do you procure LFP scrap?  What about their recycling cost?


A: We receive LFP scrap from power tools, electric bicycles or EVs through the collection system. Our company provides a recycling service, and we are paid for this service. LFP batteries do not have valuable materials, just like primary alkaline batteries based on manganese and zinc that do not contain cobalt or nickel. So their recycling operation must be covered by a balance between extracted battery materials and processing cost.



Q: What are the conditions to increase the profit from recycling LFP batteries?


A: By minimizing energy consumption and the use of chemicals and maximizing output. I think innovation will guarantee the future profitability.



Q: Could you tell us about the current situation of recycling LFP?


A: Our company has a patent on a recycling technology including LFP processing technology and we have been operating since 2008. We have the most advanced technology. We also have a project in Germany. In January, two projects, one in France and the other in Germany, were approved by the EU for its financial support. Another self-financed project is on-going in Singapore. You see, we are focusing on LFP recycling. 



Q: Could you tell us about the details of the recycling process?


A: I am not able to disclose the details now but our preliminary work at lab scale opens a way for another patent in addition to the one we currently own. What I can say now is it is about a patent for a hydrometallurgical process with a double closed loop (materials back to the circular economy, and with a water closed loop).



Q: Would it be possible to increase the profitability of LFP recycling to the extent such that the cost coverage by the EPR scheme is no longer needed?


A: With the material composition of LFP, it would be difficult. If we want to achieve a high recovery rate with a clean processing technology following the EU regulation, it is necessary to share the cost. Otherwise, we would not be able to maintain a service with a clean process and with low carbon footprint.



Q: Are you looking at a closed loop system of LFP to LFP?


A: No, we are not looking at a closed loop of this kind. The importance is to return products to the economy, and not necessarily to return them to the original form. For example, PET bottles are recycled, and their recycled materials are used for car seats, but not for bottles. A major part of cobalt is reused in the nonferrous industry. However, I think if we want to return everything to the original product, thanks to innovation all is possible but the barrier will be economic.



Q: What is your intention with the focus on recycling LFP batteries which is high in cost and low in profitability?


A: I am one of the old recyclers in Europe. Hunting only precious metals is not something that a real recycler does. In the past we also recycled manganese and zinc batteries, which are of little benefit. Recyclers need to contribute to the market and should not be selective. We are responsible for providing the market with solutions for all batteries. This is a true recycler that does not simply focus on high value materials but provides and operates with all technologies available on the market and with the responsibility to society.


Dr. Farouk TEDJAR, Director of Innovation, TES-AMM



(Translated by Y.SCHANZ)