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Toray Develops Innovative Membrane Separators for Lithium Recovery from Used Lithium-Ion Batteries


In a significant stride towards sustainable lithium resource management, Toray Industries, Inc. has unveiled a groundbreaking nanofiltration membrane designed to recover lithium from used automotive lithium-ion batteries. This development marks a crucial step in addressing the imminent surge in demand for lithium resources, propelled by the increasing adoption of electric vehicles worldwide.

The conventional methods of lithium production, notably the evaporation pond process and the ore process, pose significant challenges such as limited high-output locations and high carbon dioxide emissions, respectively. These challenges underscore the urgent need for innovative solutions to ensure the efficient and environmentally friendly recovery of lithium, a vital component in lithium-ion batteries.

Toray’s nanofiltration membranes, known for their ability to selectively separate dissolved multivalent ions and organic matter, have been adapted to address the specific requirements of lithium recovery from used batteries. By combining a highly acid-resistant setup with a precision pore structure smaller than 1 nanometer, Toray has successfully overcome limitations associated with conventional membranes, thus enabling the selective separation of valuable metals from lithium-ion batteries.

The remarkable acid-resistance and enhanced selectivity of Toray’s membrane offer promising prospects for streamlining the recovery of valuable metals, particularly lithium, from used batteries. Notably, the carbon dioxide emissions associated with recovering 1kg of lithium using Toray’s nanofiltration membrane are significantly reduced compared to traditional ore processing methods.

Toray’s commitment to collaboration with key stakeholders including automakers, battery manufacturers, and recycling companies underscores its dedication to establishing a robust lithium recycling ecosystem. By leveraging its innovative technology, Toray aims to alleviate concerns regarding lithium shortages and contribute to the realization of a carbon-neutral economy, particularly in the context of the burgeoning electric vehicle market.

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