Using Fungi to Recycle Batteries

  • Author: Haymo Ross
  • Published: 24 August 2016
  • Copyright: Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim
  • Source / Publisher: ACS National Meeting & Exposition, Philadelphia, PA, USA
  • Associated Societies: American Chemical Society (ACS), USA
thumbnail image: Using Fungi to Recycle Batteries

Lithium-ion batteries dominate the market for portable consumer electronics. Although such batteries can be recharged many times, they do not last forever. It is uncertain if the demand for lithium and cobalt, which are used for the cathode of Li-ion batteries as LiCoO2, can be met by the available resources. While there are methods to extract lithium and other metals from old batteries, they often require harsh conditions such as high temperatures.

Jeffrey A. Cunningham, University of South Florida, Tampa, USA, and colleagues have developed an environmentally friendly recycling process which uses naturally occurring fungi to extract cobalt and lithium from waste batteries. To drive the process, three strains of fungi are used: Aspergillus niger, Penicillium simplicissimum, and Penicillium chrysogenum. The team first dismantles the batteries and pulverizes the cathodes. Then, they expose the remaining pulp to the fungus.

According to the researchers, the fungi generate organic acids, and the acids leach the metals, Under conditions tested so far, the produced oxalic acid and citric acid were able to extract up to 85 % of lithium and up to 48 % of cobalt from the cathodes of spent batteries. The team is currently exploring different fungal strains, the acids they produce, and the acids' efficiency at extracting metals in different environments.


Article Views: 2246

Sign in Area

Please sign in below

Additional Sign In options

Please note that to comment on an article you must be registered and logged in.
Registration is for free, you may already be registered to receive, e.g., the newsletter. When you register on this website, please ensure you view our terms and conditions. All comments are subject to moderation.

Article Comments - To add a comment please sign in

If you would like to reuse any content, in print or online, from, please contact us first for permission and consult our permission guidance prior to making your request

Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on YouTube Follow on LinkedIn Follow on Instagram RSS Sign up for newsletters

Magazine of Chemistry Europe (16 European Chemical Societies) published by Wiley-VCH