LIFE DRONE EU-funded project

Start date: 30 November 2020 - End date: 31 December 2023

Direct pROduction of New Electrode materials from battery recycling


Technosind srl (Italy)


The main idea of the DRONE process is that the separation of the different electrode metals (Co, Ni and Mn) into high-purity streams, which is performed by state-of-the-art hydrometallurgical processes, is unnecessary if the extracted metals can be directly employed to produce new batteries. Accordingly with this idea, an innovative recycling process will be demonstrated in DRONE to recover graphite and directly synthesize a high-quality cathodic material for new NMC batteries, without separating the different metals (Ni Co and Mn). NMC batteries are one of the most successful Li-ion systems that can be tailored to serve Energy Cells or Power Cells.

The process includes 3 main sections:

  • Mechanical pre-treatment
  • Hydrometallurgical treatment of the electrode powder
  • Synthesis of the NMC cathode oxide LiNixMnyCozO2

The following actions are carried out in the project:

  • Design and construction of a mobile plant to perform the synthesis of the Nichel, Manganese and Cobalt (NMC) oxide;
  • Process demonstration;
  • Validation of produced materials by preparation of 10 Li-ion cells (capacity 10-20 Ah);
  • Evaluation of the process economic feasibility;
  • Life cycle assessment of the proposed recycling route;
  • Elaboration of a replicability plan in a different EU member state;
  • Elaboration of a business plan large scale industrial application.


The LIFE DRONE project aims to demonstrate the environmental and economic feasibility of an innovative process for the recycling of different types of spent lithium-ion batteries, the recovery of graphite and the direct synthesis of cathode material for the construction of new NMC batteries without the need to separate metals individually.

Demonstration targeting:

  • Specific capacity of NMC oxide and graphite produced under optimised operations >150 mAh/g and >300 mAh/g
  • Process capacity: 67 kg batteries/batch (30 kg electrodic power/batch)
  • Extent of demonstration: 3 tons of batteries (1350 kg of electrodic power) will be processed
  • Production of 660 kg of NMC cathode oxide (purity of Ni, Co and Mn in hydroxide ≥ 99%)
  • Production of 470 kg of graphite

Contact LIFE DRONE project

Interested to join the Cluster Hub or learn more about this initiative?