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How Are Car Batteries Recycled-Percentage, Process And Disposal
Most people often dispose of their used car batteries more often. The batteries are disposed into garbage pits, restrooms, garbage disposal sites, or stored in garages. But the good thing is that majority of people who have dead batteries often store them without knowing if the batteries can be useful again. Storing the battery in your courage is a good thing.
But the question is: Are car batteries recycled? The answer is yes. Battery recycling aims at reducing the number of batteries being disposed of to the environment. Car batteries are non-biodegradable; thus, if the batteries are left in the environment, it causes soil and water pollution. Batteries contain poisonous chemicals and heavy metals, thus disposing of car batteries is dangerous. Moreover, if batteries are burnt, they can explode and cause a fatal accident.
What percentage of car batteries are recycled?Most types of car batteries are recycled, but a few are not. Moreover, the type of battery affects the efficiency of recycling. Some batteries are easily recycled while others take time. For example, about 90 percent of lead-acid car batteries are recycled. Rechargeable batteries such as lithium-ion, nickel-cadmium, nickel-metal hydride, and nickel-zinc can be recycled too.
Therefore, about 98 to 99 percent of car batteries can be recycled. Car batteries are the only products with the highest recycling rate. The leading battery type in terms of recycling is the lead-acid battery. This is because the consumption rate of lead-acid batteries is about 6 million every year.
Importance of car battery recycling
The chemicals that react inside the battery to produce electricity are lead dioxide and sulphuric acid. Besides, there are traces of silver, a hard outer plastic casing, and water. The process of recycling is essential, considering the effects of those chemicals if released to the environment. The acid is harmful to plants and can easily seep into the ground causing acidic water.
Lead is a neurotoxin which can work its way into the food web until it reaches human. Lead is hazardous, especially to children, and can cause long-lasting problems that include stunted growth.
Furthermore, recycling reduces the use of natural resources. The manufacture of new batteries requires new resources, which can only be found in the environment. Thus these resources cannot be depleted when batteries are recycled.
Car batteries can be recycled into other products that include plant pots, laundry detergents, and new car batteries. Also, useful and dangerous metals can be extracted from the batteries.
How are car batteries recycled?Let us go through the recycling process of car batteries;
The recycling process starts by sorting batteries according to their chemical composition. Collection centers usually place lead-acid, nickel-cadmium, nickel-metal-hydride, and lithium-ion into different boxes. Recycling gives more results if there is a steady stream of batteries that are well sorted.
Removal of the combustible components of the battery follows. This material that includes plastic and insulation are removed with a gas-fired thermal oxidizer. The plant's scrubber eliminates polluting particles removed by the process of combustion then they are released into the environment.
Clean and naked cells with metal content are left, the cells are then cut into tiny pieces and placed to heal until they turn into liquid. Non-metallic components are burned off, leaving a black slag that is then removed by a slag arm. The alloy is left to settle according to its weight then skimmed off like cream from milk while still in liquid form.
Cadmium is light and has a low boiling point. In a process that looks like a pan of water boiling over, a cadmium vapor is blown into a large tube cooled with a water mist. The condensed vapor is 99.95 percent pure.
Other recyclers do not separate metals on-site but pour the liquid metals into what they refer to as ''pigs'' (7 pounds, 24kg) or "hogs" (2,000 pounds, 746 kg). Another group of recyclers uses nuggets (7 pounds, 3.17 kg). The nuggets, pigs, and the hogs are then transported to metal recovery industries where they are used to get nickel, chromium, and iron for stainless still and other final products.
Some recyclers use a water-like solution or freeze lithium-acid batteries with nitrogen to minimize the risk of reactivity during crushing. Mixing li-ion batteries with lead-acid type remains a problem as a charged li-ion is more explosive than lead-acid.
Most battery types consume a lot of energy during recycling except lead batteries. Lead can be extracted from lead-acid battery easily and reused without an elaborate procedure. Also, nickel from NiMH can be easily extracted if available in large amounts.
With time and technology, new methods are being developed to ease the recycling process. Methods of retrieving metals by electrolysis (also known as chemical recycling) are being invented. The process is more economical and yields a large number of metals with fewer pollutants. Aqua metals are using the process to recycle lead-acid batteries.
An electrochemical procedure separates the lead by breaking down metals into very tiny particles dispersed into water to create a hydro-colloidal metal. The process is known as Aqua Refining. There is no available procedure that can be used to retrieve lithium for a second use in batteries.
The government subsidizes the recycling of li-ion batteries because it is non-profitable.
What do they do with recycled car batteries?Car batteries can be recycled or re-conditioned into new products made from sulphuric acid and polypropylene. The batteries can be turned into new batteries and returned to the market for sale.
Car batteries can be recycled into new products such as plant pots, laundry detergents, and different types of metals such as lead that will then be used in other products.
Final ThoughtProtect yourself and your place of residence. Do not dispose of batteries carelessly because the effects will come back to you. Take all dead batteries to collection centers so that they can be recycled. It is your responsibility to keep your country clean. Please do your part so that we can have a healthy generation and nation.