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Environmentally friendly, sustainable and commercial-scale production of highly pure ‘battery-ready’ leady oxide via hydrometallurgical processing of spent battery paste

FenixPb is a patented hydrometallurgical process that delivers a critical improvement to the lead recycling industry. It enables conversion of spent battery paste to leady oxide (Pb+PbO) without producing or handling an intermediate ingot, and without employing electrowinning. Moreover, the process reduces the carbon footprint by 80–89%; eliminates noxious gases (including sulfur dioxide) at no added cost; reduces overall slag burden by more than 90%; and produces energy (this is because a key stage in the process is highly exothermic, releasing rather than consuming energy).

The resulting ‘battery-ready’ oxide is of high quality and purity (more than 99.99%). Moreover, the leady oxide is nanostructured and has been shown to improve the energy density, cycling and life of the battery. It is possible to control the ratio of alpha-to-beta lead and thereby enable the production of lead–acid batteries for specific applications. Importantly, the production of leady oxide via this hydrometallurgical method is more cost-effective than the incumbent Barton pot or ball-mill methods. The technology is due to be commercialised in 2019. Pilot plants are currently being constructed in Brazil and the United Kingdom.

Athan Fox

Chief Technology & Innovation Officer, Aurelius

Athan is a PhD graduate in Chemistry from the University of Cambridge and a part-qualified UK patent attorney. His previous roles include Technology Transfer at Cambridge Enterprise and management of a chemical research laboratory at the University of Cambridge. Athan’s core interests include the development of new and ground-breaking technology to address the world's challenges in sustainability, recycling and the circular economy - to bring about a 'world without waste'. He was selected to represent the UK and the European Commission on multiple government-led missions to Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Europe and the Middle East.

In January 2019, Aurelius Environmental won two prestigious Rushlight awards in London, UK. Between 2016 and 2018, the company secured grant-funding of more than £2 million GBP including a Horizon 2020 Phase 2 SME, Innovate UK Newton Fund, and Innovate UK Open Programme awards. Athan is an Executive member of Aurelius Environmental and is involved in technology, research and innovation strategy, technology transfer and commercialisation of the Aurelius value propositions.