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How to properly dispose of a medical lithium ion battery?

How to properly dispose of a medical lithium ion battery?

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How do you dispose of a medical lithium ion battery?

Lithium ion batteries are used in almost all medical devices nowadays. For medical devices, two types of Lithium batteries are being used in them, the single-use ones and the rechargeable ones. The most commonly used type in medical devices; however, is the single usage type. Some might ask, how do we get rid of these batteries? Is there a safe way to get rid of the Lithium ion batteries?

Lithium ion batteries can not be thrown away in a trash can. They must be disposed of properly. To do so, you should head to one of your local recycling facilities that are near your place. Lithium material is a very reactive one and will catch fire if exposed to Oxygen. That is why the proper dispose of lithium ion batteries is extremely important. Failure to do might result in catastrophic results.

Are medical lithium ion batteries rechargeable?

There are currently two types of Lithium ion batteries that are being used in medical devices. The "primary" lithium batteries that are disposable, and the "secondary" lithium batteries, which are the rechargeable lithium ion batteries. Depending on the medical device it is determined if the primary or the secondary types will be used. For medical devices that are mostly outside of the body, then the secondary lithium ion rechargeable batteries are used. Where access to a charger is easy. While for medical devices where access to a charger is hard, like the peacemaker; the primary lithium batteries are used. However, with the advanced technology in the Lithium batteries field, the primary lithium batteries offer a life span of almost 10 years, which reduced the number of operations the patient should undergo tremendously.

Can you recycle a medical lithium ion battery?

To answer the above question; YES, medical Lithium ion batteries can be recycled. The places to do so are certified recycling centers. To know where are these centers are, go for your local retail store and ask them where to get rid of your Lithium ion batteries and they will show you the way.

Recycling medical Lithium ion batteries can be done in certified recycling centers that are found all over the country. Recycling Lithium ion batteries is a delicate process. First, a full discharge is performed on the batteries to consume all the charge inside of the battery and make it relatively safer. The steps for recycling Lithium ion batteries inside of the recycling centers are:

  • Performing a full discharge on the batteries to deplete them from all of the charges.

  • Freezing the electrolyte inside of the batteries to prevent any electrochemical reaction from happening.

  • Evaporating and then recovering of the organic solvents of the electrolyte by a process patented by Duesenfeld Company, This process is done in a vacuum.

  • Battery cells are then crushed by special huge machinery.

  • Metals are then extracted from the batteries via a process called the thermal treatment process. 

  • Sorting materials is the final step of the process, where workers sort every material to be extracted individually.

Before the sorting process, smaller recyclers incinerate the Lithium inside of the Lithium ion batteries in special waste treatment facilities, as a way of reducing fire incidents and preventing Lithium from reacting with Oxygen.

Duesenfeld Company, a German-based company, has its own-patented recycling process. In this process, lithium ion battery cells are crushed in an inert atmosphere. After crushing the cells, they start evaporating and condensing the crushed parts. This process helps them to collect the organic materials from the electrolyte of the Lithium ion batteries. After that, they start separating the electrode coating material from the rest of the molten ones. The graphite after that process is then filtered out, cleaned and claimed back to be used once more in the manufacturing process. The final step in their process is to collect lithium carbonate, nickel sulfate, and cobalt sulfate from the mixture. This process is more eco-friendly than conventional recycling processes. Moreover, the CO2 footprint of this process is so much lower than other processes, which in return saves more energy.

As a rule, medical Lithium ion batteries should be changed whenever they reach the 20% mark. 

Medical lithium ion batteries' life decreases over time. That is the one disadvantage of using them. Currently, manufacturers give the customers an estimate of when to replace their batteries, which is provided on the package of the batteries. That is why when looking for a medical Lithium ion battery "longevity" is the key to buying them. When choosing the batteries, patients should aim for the lithium battery types that have the longest life cycle. Patients should remember that replacing them in most of the medical devices would require a surgical operation.

Lithium ion batteries lifetime depend on the potential difference between the negative and negative electrodes of the Lithium battery. This potential difference increases while the battery is being charged, and is decreased while the battery is being used. For medical lithium ion batteries, there is a standard procedure, which is to charge them to a voltage value of around 4.1V and then to discharge them at a low temperature to about 2.7V. The voltage at which the Lithium ion batteries charging is stopped is called "the end of charge voltage level". 

Medical lithium ion batteries are designed to last for a very long time. They can last for an average life cycle of 10 years of operation. However, it is recommended to regularly check battery levels, to avoid medical emergencies.

When buying a medical lithium ion battery there are some factors that you should consider. Some of these factors are:

  • Ensure that the battery is perfectly insulated.

  • Choose the battery that has the longest life span written on the package. 

  • Choose the batteries that are labeled "balanced charging".

  • Do not buy batteries from unknown manufactures. Doing so may result in you buying a faulty battery, or buying a battery with an invalid charge gauge display. Which is very dangerous especially when used with medical devices that require extreme accuracy and precision. 

  • Check the warranty option for the battery you are buying, and never buy a battery that has no warranty. 

Finally, make sure that the batteries are sterilized properly.

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