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Fontainebleau, France

Talens Peiro L.,INSEAD Europe Campus | Villalba Mendez G.,Autonomous University of Barcelona | Ayres R.U.,INSEAD Europe Campus
JOM | Year: 2013

The demand for lithium has increased significantly during the last decade as it has become key for the development of industrial products, especially batteries for electronic devices and electric vehicles. This article reviews sources, extraction and production, uses, and recovery and recycling, all of which are important aspects when evaluating lithium as a key resource. First, it describes the estimated reserves and lithium production from brine and pegmatites, including the material and energy requirements. Then, it continues with a description about the current uses of lithium focusing on its application in batteries and concludes with a description of the opportunities for recovery and recycling and the future demand forecast. The article concludes that the demand of lithium for electronic vehicles will increase from 30% to almost 60% by 2020. Thus, in the next years, the recovery and recycling of lithium from batteries is decisive to ensure the long-term viability of the metal. © 2013 TMS. Source

Valero Navazo J.M.,Autonomous University of Barcelona | Villalba Mendez G.,Autonomous University of Barcelona | Talens Peiro L.,INSEAD Europe Campus
International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment | Year: 2014

Purpose: Proper recycling of mobile phones and other electronic products is important in order to reduce the generation of large amounts of hazardous waste, lessen environmental and social problems associated to the extraction of minerals and primary production of materials, and also minimize the depletion of scarce materials that are often difficult to substitute. Current material recovery processes are used to recycle electronic waste of various compositions. Methods: Based on a review of the recycling processes and material flow analysis (MFA), we attribute the material and energy required to recover metals from 1 tonne of discarded mobile phones. Results and discussion: We estimate that the recovery rates of gold, palladium, silver, copper, nickel, lead, antimony, and tin from the recycling processes described are 80 to 99 % (16.4 % of the phone in weight) the two main industrial processes used at present time (pyrometallurgical and combined pyro-hydrometallurgical) have similar energy consumptions (7,763 and 7,568 MJ/tonne of mobile phones, respectively). An average tonne of used mobile phones represents a potential of 128 kg of copper, 0.347 kg of gold, 0.15 kg of palladium, 3.63 kg of silver, 15 kg of nickel, 6 kg of lead, 1 kg of antimony, and 10 kg of tin as well as other metals that are not yet profitable to recover but might be in the future. Conclusions: We find that the energy consumed to recover copper from mobile phones is half of that needed for copper primary extraction and similar or greater energy savings for precious metal refining. Nevertheless, only 2.5 % of mobile phones arrive to industrial recovery facilities there is a great potential to increase the amount of metals being recovered, thereby reducing energy consumption and increasing resource efficiency. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg. Source

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