5.01 New approaches to recovery criticAl MEtals from spent LIthium-ions battEries (AMELIE) 

Elza Bontempi
Gennaio 2023
Dicembre 2025
Università degli Studi di Brescia

Università degli Studi di Padova, Politecnico di Torino, Politecnico di Bari, Politecnico di Milano, ITALTEL S.p.A. 

5.01 New approaches to recovery criticAl MEtals from spent LIthium-ions battEries (AMELIE) 

To enable a major shift to bring transportation and power to greenhouse gas neutrality the coupling of both sectors for the first time in history is mandatory: batteries can enable 30% of the required reductions in carbon emissions in the transport and power sectors. However, the supply of raw metals for batteries is precarious because of the limited natural reserves of several raw materials and their local distribution. This may represent a problem for Italy, having limited natural resources to realise the structural change in the mobility sector. Moreover, this may also be an opportunity to find strategies for the use of secondary materials. This can be obtained by the development of technologies that can stably secure strategic metals, based, for example, on urban mining, to extract metals from secondary sources. However, at the moment, the waste recovery processes of battery wastes are complicated and require high resource consumption in terms of energies and chemicals necessary for metal extraction. The AMELIE project introduces innovative approaches to provide an alternative route to respond to the increasing demand for raw materials for batteries, guarantee a second life to the corresponding waste, and secure closed-loop, sustainable, inclusive processes. The project is mainly based on 3 new technologies proposed by the different partners for metals recovery and a new technology for exhaust fumes treatment, all at low TRL (three of the new technologies are also patented). Great attention is devoted to the waste recovery supply chain, materials selection, sustainability of the proposed technologies, and modelling and optimization of the manufacturing and de-manufacturing process. Human-centric solutions for the waste batteries recovery context will be also evaluated. In addition, all the aspects related to the material flows will be considered in order to design a process that can be sustainable according to the Triple Bottom Line approach, from a logistics point of view. Thus, not only the environmental aspect will be considered, but the economic and social ones too. To this end, the different scenarios will be developed and in turn, evaluated to assess their feasibility. The AMELIE project aims at reaching the new 2030 regulatory targets proposed by the EU on batteries waste, with more than 95% of lithium and cobalt recovery in a sustainable way, translating the EU’s sustainable development goals into innovative technologies. In this frame, great attention will be devoted to the development of a battery e-passport, in accordance with the legislative requirement. This will also drive the development of a national market for spent batteries, which are currently sent abroad and not recycled in Italy, supporting the circular economy.


Lithium-ion batteries play a key role in the shift to a more renewable, sustainable, and low-carbon future. The demand for batteries and energy storage is rapidly increasing, then it is necessary to find suitable sources that may face supply shortages of considerable amounts of valuable metals such as lithium, cobalt, nickel, and manganese. The AMELIE project aims to investigate possible new pathways for the recovery of strategic metals from spent lithium-ion batteries, and to convert biowaste (for example wood) into bio-coal, by pyrolysis process. Following circular economy principles, various waste management approaches such as mechanical treatments (classification, dismantling, discharging, froth flotation), pyrometallurgy, hydrometallurgy, bio-hydrometallurgy, and solvometallurgy, will be investigated, developed, and optimized. Alongside technological developments, broad environmental, social, economic, business, and regulatory studies will be also realised, to quantify the sustainability of the proposed technologies and follow the new regulatory constraints. The quantified expected results are: Proof-of-concept of the new recovery technology based on microwave extraction (12 months) UNIBS; Proof-of-concept of the new recovery technology based on the solvometallurgy approach based on eutectic media (18 to 36 months) POLIMI; Substitution of fossil carbon cathode by biocarbon cathode to decarbonize battery production POLIMI (18 to 36 months); A Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) request for a newly developed technology, simultaneously seeking protection for the invention in a large number of countries (6 months) UNIBS; Development of an optimised procedure for black mass treatment by microwave oven implementation (24 months) UNIBS-UNIPD-POLITO; Results of sustainability analysis of the proposed technologies for spent LIBs recovery (month 36); Development of a battery e-passport (36 months)