As a first step (Stage 1), the plant shreds spent batteries of different sizes and types, then sorts the plastic and metal components from the so-called "black mass". The two-stage shredding process is followed by drying and beneficiation to separate coarse metal and plastic materials from feed for processing in the hydrometallurgical section of the plant. These materials are drummed for sale as scrap to existing metal and plastic recyclers. The process can safely shred individual cells without requiring prior discharge owing to its multiple safety systems which include wet shredding and an inert gas shrouded environment to manage fire risk.
Primobius anticipates situations where modules may need to be disassembled into constituent cells. Where this is not the case, modules may need to be discharged to a specified maximum level to limit the aggregate contained power before they are shredded. The dimensions of each format and state of charge post receival to plant will influence the requirement.
The black mass product from Stage 1 contains the active materials for the operation of batteries. During the following hydrometallurgical processes, it is possible to extract from these active materials lithium, nickel and cobalt in a suitable form for reuse in making battery cathode materials.