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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.
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.
is based on electrolyte:
- Base (alkaline)
- Metal salt
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
Nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd) batteries: The reagent is cadmium and nickel hydroxide. The electrolyte is potassium
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-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
Each such product has a designation that it should not be disposed of with
ordinary household waste.
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).
Steps for Recycling
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Recycling - the only
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.
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.
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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