The transition to a circular economy vision must handle the increasing request of metals required to satisfy the battery industry; this can be obtained by recycling and feeding back secondary raw materials recovered through proper waste management. Here, a novel and green proof-of-concept was developed, based on deep eutectic solvents (DESs) to fully and easily recover valuable metals from various cathode active materials, including LiMn2O4, LiNi0.5Mn1.5O4, and LiNi0.8Co0.2O2. DES composed of choline chloride and lactic acid could leach Li, Mn, Co, and Ni, achieving efficiency of 100 % under much milder conditions with respect to the previous literature. For the first time, to our best knowledge, a two-step approach was reported in the case of LiNi0.8Co0.2O2 for selective recovery of Li, Co, and Ni with high yield and purity. Furthermore, other cathode components, namely aluminum current collector and binder, were found to be not dissolved by the proposed DES, thus making a simple separation from the active material possible. Finally, this strategy was designed to easily regenerate and reuse the leaching solvents for more than one extraction, thus further boosting process sustainability.
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