Repurposing of LiFePO4 materials to value added fertilizers



Battery materials recycling, agricultural fertilizer, Phosphate and Lithium re-use

Target Problems

Recycling spent lithium iron phosphate (LFP) cathodes in an economical sustainable way remains a great challenge due to its low-value elemental composition. Thus, a low-cost technology together with a high-value product are critical for the recovery of the LFP materials.

Key Features

  • Low Cost – the method provides high value elements for agriculture and Li ion batteries
  • Simple – the process is easy for recovery of spent LFP
  • Mature – this commercial ion-exchange (IX) method is available and practical
  • Fast – the kinetics of IX and regeneration reaction are fast, and the equilibrium can be reached in as short as 20 min


Inventors at University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee (UWM) have developed a simple and economical technology which provides a practical recycling strategy for spent LFP batteries. This mature and low-cost ion-exchange method takes advantage of Li-H and Li-K reactions using strong and weak acid cation exchange resins. More than 90% of lithium can be recovered with strong acid cation resins as well as K-form resins. Along with the phosphorus remaining in the leaching solution, the reaction delivers a potential product of multi-elemental fertilizer. The verification of this method opens a new promising recycling direction that could transform spent LFP cathodes to high-value single or multi-elemental fertilizer.

Intellectual Property

US Provisional Patent Pending