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Recycling Batteries

Posted by Replacement Battery Store on

Recycling Batteries

Batteries are a relatively inexpensive source of energy with a wide range of application. They are used in vehicles, remote controls, watches, portable electronics, digital equipment, toys, etc.

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Battery types

Basically, almost all types of rechargeable batteries are somewhat harmless. Though it may seem strange, their small size raises doubts that disposal and recycling of used batteries is a necessary measure. In order to understand what dangers these small sources of energy contain within we must look more closely into their construction and chemical composition.

Essentially, the battery housing is absolutely safe. It is made of metal that completely isolates the contents while the casing does not corrode. Inside, there are dangerous chemical elements that can be neutralized by recycling the batteries. Each of them has an anode - zinc dust impregnated with electrolyte and cathode - magnesium dioxide mixed with titanium dioxide.

Battery classification is based on electrolyte:

  • Base (alkaline)
  • Lithium
  • Metal salt
  • Silver
  • Mercury

Car batteries have different ranges and differ in parameters such as size, appearance, recharge cycle, capacity, shelf life and chemical composition:

Lead models contain lead and a dioxide as a reagent. Electrolyte is a solution of sulfuric acid.

Nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd) batteries: The reagent is cadmium and nickel hydroxide. The electrolyte is potassium hydroxide.

The iron-nickel battery contains iron, sodium or potassium hydroxide, nickel oxide.

Nickel metal hydride models include chemical elements such as nickel, lithium, potassium hydroxide and nickel oxide.

Nickel-zinc batteries contain zinc, potassium hydroxide, lithium and nickel oxide.

Silver zinc (cadmium) consists of zinc or cadmium, potassium hydroxide, silver oxide.

Lithium-ion - lithium and cobalt oxide.

Lithium-polymer - lithium, vanadium, manganese or cobalt oxides.

Why should we not dispose of the used batteries?

The question undoubtedly is up-to-date.A small battery pollutes 20m2 of land. After the battery is discharged, the metallic coating corrodes, and the heavy metals penetrate the soil and groundwater into rivers, lakes and other water bodies used for drinking water supply.

Mercury is one of the most dangerous and toxic metals, it accumulates in the tissues of living organisms and can fall into the human body either directly from the water or through food prepared from poisoned plants or animals. If the battery is burned in an incinerator, all the toxic materials contained within will be released into the atmosphere.

In order not to pay for the negligence of our own health, batteries should not be disposed of at municipal landfills but must be discharged into the collection points and collection points for unsuitable batteries in specialized containers.

Each such product has a designation that it should not be disposed of with ordinary household waste.

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Foreign experience in the recycling of batteries

Of the total volume of batteries and accumulators produced in the world, only 3% are processed, and this indicator in the countries around the world is different. In developing countries, they are practically not recycled but landfilled with household waste.

In the USA, the point where you can dispose of the used batteries is at any store that sells them. The collection and processing of items is entrusted to the sellers and distributors of the products concerned and manufacturers are required to finance all necessary measures. The number of annually recycled batteries in the USA is up to 60% (97% lead-acid and 20-40% lithium-ion).

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Steps for Recycling Batteries:

The industrial recycling of automobile and portable batteries in one plant is approximated by the following scheme:

1. Hand sorting - distribution of waste batteries according to their type;

2. The container line delivers the batteries to a crusher where they are crushed;

3. The resulting raw material falls under the magnetic strip separating the large elements of the metal casing;

4. The rest is subjected to multiple fracturing and separation of the iron;

5. The resulting mass contains an electrolyte and needs a neutralization process;

6. As a result of hydrometallurgical technology, the raw material is divided into separate components and packaged.

Battery recycling is a process of recovering and using the materials from which it is produced. During this process, the metals are extracted from the batteries and re-incorporated into new products. The purpose of this process is to conserve electricity and raw materials. The treatment of such waste contributes to the protection of the environment and human health.

At present, an environmentally friendly and cost-effective technology that would allow the recycling of depleted batteries and the production of good quality products does not exist.

For example, pyrometallurgical and hydrometallurgical methods are used for the extraction of cadmium. The most widespread of pyrometallurgical methods based on the distillation of gaseous cadmium compounds is vacuum distillation.

In addition to the ultimate environmental hazards of this production, distillation is characterized by the production of low-grade cadmium oxide and secondary waste, whose use in other industries is problematic.

The world experience in the processing of waste containing cadmium shows prospects for hydrometallurgical methods based mainly on the use of solutions of sulfuric acid, ammonia and salts. However, the use of hydrometallurgical operations will enable environmental issues to be addressed in the disposal of cadmium-containing wastes and to meet the needs of machine-building and metallurgy with high-grade cadmium oxide.

Overall, the disadvantages of the sulfuric acid method are: - low degree of cadmium extraction due to iron loss containing industrial products, technological difficulties in purifying industrial solutions. The use of ammonia is limited by its volatility and problematic regeneration.

All in all, substances extracted from batteries during processing (graphite, zinc and manganese salts) can subsequently, be used to create new batteries as well as in other industries, particularly in the pharmaceutical industry.

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Recycling - the only alternative

Generally, batteries are chemical devices whose elements react to produce the electricity we use. They are made of different materials, but they contain highly toxic chemical elements and dissolved heavy metals:

  • lead (accumulates in the body affecting the kidneys, the nervous system, bone tissue)
  • cadmium (damages the lungs and kidneys)
  • mercury (affects the brain and the nervous system)
  • nickel and zinc (can cause dermatitis)
  • alkalis (burning of the mucous membranes and skin) and others.

For lead-acid batteries, the electrolyte is sulfuric acid diluted with distilled water. Dangerous in liquid and gaseous state. Electrolyte may cause burns of the skin, respiratory tract, mucous membranes. Contact with eyes may result in severe burns and blindness.

Considering the harm that such a "bouquet" of ecological chemicals might cause, there is no doubt that recycling of automotive, industrial and all other types of batteries is the only way to prevent the critical level of contamination of the planet and the pathology of human health.

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