Battery recycling is a recycling activity that aims to reduce the number of batteries being disposed as municipal solid waste. Batteries contain a number of heavy metals and toxic chemicals and disposing them by the same process as regular trash has raised concerns over soil contamination and water pollution
Battery recycling by type
Most types of batteries can be recycled. However, some batteries are recycled more readily than others, such as lead–acid automotive batteries (nearly 90% are recycled) and button cells (because of the value and toxicity of their chemicals). Other types, such as alkaline and rechargeable, e.g., nickel–cadmium (Ni-Cd), nickel metal hydride (Ni-MH), lithium-ion (Li-ion) and nickel–zinc (Ni-Zn), can also be recycled.
These batteries include but are not limited to: car batteries, golf cart batteries, UPS batteries, industrial fork-lift batteries, motorcycle batteries, and commercial batteries. These can be regular lead–acid, sealed lead–acid, gel type, or absorbed glass mat batteries. These are recycled by grinding them, neutralizing the acid, and separating the polymers from the lead. The recovered materials are used in a variety of applications, including new batteries.
Recycling the lead from batteries.
The lead in a lead–acid battery can be recycled. Elemental lead is toxic and should therefore be kept out of the waste stream.
Lead–acid batteries collected by an auto parts retailer for recycling.
Many cities offer battery recycling services for lead–acid batteries. In some jurisdictions, including U.S. states and Canadian provinces, a refundable deposit is paid on batteries. This encourages recycling of old batteries instead of abandonment or disposal with household waste. In the United States, about 99% of lead from used batteries is reclaimed.
Businesses that sell new car batteries may also collect used batteries (or be required to do so by law) for recycling. Some businesses accept old batteries on a "walk-in" basis, as opposed to in exchange for a new battery. Most battery shops and recycling centres pay for scrap batteries. This can be a lucrative business, enticing especially to risk-takers because of the wild fluctuations in the value of scrap lead that can occur overnight. When lead prices go up, scrap batteries become targets for thieves.
Silver oxide batteries
Used most frequently in watches, toys, and some medical devices, silver oxide batteries contain a small amount of mercury. Most jurisdictions regulate their handling and disposal to reduce the discharge of mercury into the environment. Silver oxide batteries can be recycled to recover the mercury.
Lithium ion batteries
Lithium-ion batteries and lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries often contain among other useful metals high-grade copper and aluminium in addition to – depending on the active material – transition metals cobalt and nickel as well as rare earths. To prevent a future shortage of cobalt, nickel, and lithium and to enable a sustainable life cycle of these technologies, recycling processes for lithium batteries are needed. These processes have to regain not only cobalt, nickel, copper, and aluminum from spent battery cells, but also a significant share of lithium. In order to achieve this goal, several unit operations are combined to complex process chains, especially considering the task to recover high rates of valuable materials with regard to involved safety issues.
These unit operations are:
Deactivation or discharging of the battery (especially in case of batteries from electric vehicles)
Disassembly of battery systems (especially in case of batteries from electric vehicles)
Mechanical Processes (including crushing, sorting, and sieving processes )
Specific dangers associated with lithium-ion battery recycling processes are: electrical dangers, chemical dangers, burning reactions, and their potential interactions. A complicating factor is the water sensitivity: lithium hexafluorophosphate, a possible electrolyte material, will react with water to form hydrofluoric acid; cells are often immersed in a solvent to prevent this. Once removed, the jelly rolls are separated and the materials removed by ultrasonic agitation, leaving the electrodes ready for melting down and recycling.
Pouch cells are particularly easier to recycle in this way and some people already do this to salvage the copper despite the safety issues.
Vsauce What To Do with Used Batteries
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