Project ScaleFiciency

Stepwise upscaling of an inductively heated packed bed reactor to a two-coil design for efficient pyrometallurgical recovery of valuable metals from lithium-ion batteries

Overall approach

Lithium-ion batteries (LIB) are suitable for a variety of applications. The accumulators represent key technologies for reducing CO2 emissions and achieving global climate targets. Various areas of application lead to different requirements for these batteries, causing some of these storage systems to diverge considerably in terms of cell chemistry and structure, and therefore also in their physical and chemical properties. The cathode material has a major influence on the properties. It consists mostly of a lithium metal oxide structure, whereby metal compounds mainly contain cobalt, nickel or manganese as well as mixed oxides of these are.

The complex composition of battery materials creates major challenges for current recycling processes. The partly similar characteristics of the substances prove to be disadvantageous in hydrometallurgical processes, whereas slagging of specific metals occurs in pyrometallurgy. A desirable goal constitutes the development of an efficient process chain that allows the recovery of valuable metals as well as critical raw materials from the cells in a high quality and therefore enabling a return into the material cycle. Based on the results of a proven recycling concept in the material-specific, as well as electrotechnical area, ScaleFiciency takes one step closer to industrial readiness. This should be reached by scaling up a pyrometallurgical process using an inductive heating concept, whereas the plant should be developed towards a two-coil-two-zone system with a continuous feeding.


A transformation to energy generation by wind and sun as well as to electromobility becomes inevitable to reduce climate change. This involves an increasing demand for mobile and stationary storage systems. As a result, the application of lithium-ion batteries leads to an increase in the waste stream of used batteries. The local shortage of raw materials for the required elements demands the strengthening of recycling measures. ScaleFiciency focuses on process engineering challenges towards the "zero-waste" approach, thereby enabling the upscaling of a proven recycling concept. Low-CO2 induction heating is upgraded to the next level of a multi-coil design so that continuous operation can be achieved. The objectives of the ScaleFiciency project are as follows:

  • Process development to a continuous multi-coil design
  • Optimization of the induction unit
  • Increase energy efficiency
  • Improvement of the recovery rates of valuable metals
  • Investigations with alternative reducing agents, like hydrogen


Project runtime:

2023-02-01 to 2025-01-31

Funding scheme:

This project is funded by Province Styria (Zukunftsfonds Steiermark) (Grant Agreement no. PN 1512).

Project consortium:

Beginning with the project coordination, the consortium is formed as follows: