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All About Battery Recycling


Battery recycling is the method of battery reuse and reprocessing, aimed at reducing the amount of batteries disposed of as industrial waste. Batteries contain many poisonous chemicals and heavy metals and their disposal has been causing environmental concerns due to water and soil pollution.
As such, recycling of batteries is important to meet environmental and health benefits.

Wikipedia says,

"Battery recycling is a recycling program aimed at reducing the amount of batteries being disposed of as solid waste in the municipality.
Batteries contain a number of heavy metals and toxic chemicals and have generated concern about soil contamination and water pollution by disposing of them
in the same process as regular trash.

Process of Battery Recycling

Almost all batteries can be recycled but some can be recycled more quickly than others. Lead batteries, for example, are recyclable at 99 per cent, particularly due to the degree of lead and toxicity.
Often recyclable are other types of batteries such as lithium-ion, nickel–cadmium (Ni-Cd), nickel–zinc (Ni-Zn), nickel metal hydride (Ni-MH), and lithium-ion (Li-ion).
The subtopics below give detailed discussion on the different mechanisms and measures used to recycle different batteries.

Recycling Lead Acid Battery

Lead battery recycling involves five basic steps:

Collection: Batteries are collected from waste collection and disposal points and transported to the recycling facility.

Crushing: The battery is broken apart in a hammer mill (machine which crushes the battery into small pieces) when it enters the recycling facility.

Sorting: The broken pieces are taken through a vat, removing the heavy metals and lead from the plastic.

Sieving: Bits of polypropylene are scooped out, and the liquids are sieved to leave only the lead and heavy metals. The bits of Polypropylene are washed, and ferried downstream to produce new battery casings.

Methods Hydro-metallurgical and Pyro-metallurgical: these are methods used to remove valuable metals and minerals from their ores. After the fourth step, it is the final processes used in battery recycling to remove lead and other heavy metals from the battery residue.
Hydrometallurgy is an extractive procedure that uses aqueous chemistry to recover lead and other valuable metals in a process complemented by pyrometallurgy that enables the chemical and physical transformations.
The process includes calcinations, roasting, smelting, and grinding to produce the final product from lead.

The plastics (polypropylene pieces) are washed and dried, then sent to plastic recycling downstream, where they are recycled and reused to produce new battery casings.

The lead materials are washed and put through the processes of Hydro-metallurgy and Pyro-metallurgy, where they undergo calcinations, roasting and smelting.

The resulting molten lead is then treated to remove any impurities by aqueous chemical treatment and washing. Afterwards the final products are poured into ingot molds and left to cool.
These are removed from the mold after cooling and ferried to battery factories where they are reused to produce new lead plates and other parts for the battery.

Old battery acid is viewed in two different ways:

Neutralization of the acid with basic industrial compounds which transform the acid into water.
The water will be washed, treated and tested to ensure that it meets quality requirements,
after which it will be released into the public sewer.

Additionally, it can be converted to sodium sulfate. Sodium sulfate is an odorless white powder used in the manufacture of detergents, textiles and glass for the laundry.
Instead, the acid may be reused via advanced recycling process to produce new battery items.

Recycling Alkaline Zinc Air /Zinc Carbon Batteries

Alkaline Zinc Air / Zinc Carbon Batteries are recycled at 99.9 per cent in an advanced mechanical dismantling process where the battery components are separated into three end products.
Such pieces include: 1) steel, 2) paper and plastic, and 3) concentrates of zinc and manganese.
These will then all be taken back to recycling plants where they will be reused to produce new items.

Recycling Lithium Ion, Nickel Metal Hydride, Nickel-Cadmium Batteries

99.9 per cent of these batteries ' components are recycled into reusable goods. Plastics are removed from the metal components before smelting and the resulting parts are reused for producing respective material products.
The remains are smelted through a cycle of High-Temperature Metal Recovery (HTMR). The process allows metals like iron, manganese, nickel, and chromium to be recovered.
Hydro-metallurgical and Pyro-metallurgical methods are usually used to remove these metals. Recovered pieces are then taken through recycling facilities to be used again in the production of new products

Recycling Lithium Batteries

The electrodes are pounded out to remove the components of the internal battery. We cut the plastics and shredd the inner sections into smaller pieces. To neutralize the electrolytes,
the resulting debris is dissolved in clear (caustic) water. Instead they distinguish the ferrous and non-ferrous metals. Clean scrap metals are either used or sold to recyclers for the production of new products.
The remainder of the solution is then filtered and taken through the carbon and lithium recovery process.
Some of the carbon extracted is recycled when lithium is converted to lithium carbonate that is used to manufacture battery foil and lithium ingot powder.

Recycling Mercury Batteries

Because of the high toxicity of the heavy metals in them, mercury batteries are treated with great care and processed through a controlled temperature.
The methods of hydro-metallurgical and pyro-metallurgical recycling are used but in a highly controlled setting for the extraction of material.
Eliminated mercury is reused for the manufacture of new batteries based on mercury, in dental amalgams and metric units, and for fluorescent lighting.
For the manufacture of their respective products other elements such as plastics and metallic materials are reused.
A point to note, however, is that in some countries the manufacture of mercury containing batteries has been declining and even banned due to their possible threat to human and environmental health.

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Last Update On 24th January 2020

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