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Medical Lithium Ion Battery Recycling -Recycling Methods and Cycle Life

Medical Lithium Ion Battery Recycling -Recycling Methods and Cycle Life

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Can medical lithium ion batteries be recycled?

Lithium ion batteries are widely used in most of the medical devices that run on batteries nowadays. For medical devices, there are two types of Lithium batteries that 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 used 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 disposing of lithium ion batteries properly is extremely important for your safety.

So, to answer the heading question; YES, medical Lithium ion batteries can be recycled. The places to do so are the certified recycling centers. To know where 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.

How are medical lithium ion batteries recycled?

As mentioned before, recycling medical Lithium ion batteries are done via certified recycling centers. 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 recycling process is done to retrieving valuable materials from the used batteries. 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 extracted from the batteries via 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, which is a German company that specializes in recycling Lithium ion batteries, has its own patented recycling process. In this process, they crush Lithium ion cells 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 is filtered out and claimed back. 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.

How long do you need to change a lithium ion battery for medical devices?

Generally speaking, medical Lithium ion batteries should be changed when they reach 20%. That is the recommended "safely" procedure to be done when dealing with medical devices. Any battery's life cycle is extremely important, for medical devices specifically, patients must have the confidence that the device will not fail them. For that to happen, the device's battery must be monitored closely.

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 the batteries. That is why when buying a medical Lithium ion battery "longevity" is the key to buying them. Patients should aim for the types with the longest life cycle, as replacing them in most of the medical devices would require a surgical operation.

Lithium ion batteries lifetime is affected by the potential difference between the negative and negative electrodes of the battery. This potential difference increases while the battery is being charged, and is decreased while the battery is being used. In medical lithium ion batteries, the standard procedure is to charge them to a voltage of a 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 are stopped is called "the end of charge voltage level".

Another thing that affects Lithium ion batteries is the Depth of Discharge (DOD), if the upper voltage is reduced from 4.1V to a lower value, this will affect the battery tremendously.

Medical lithium ion batteries are designed to last for a long time. The average life cycle for them is 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:

  • Make sure that the battery is safely insulated and possess no harm for humans.

  • Make sure that you choose the battery with the longest life cycle possible.

  • 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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