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What do I do With Old Lithium Batteries-Proper Disposal
The superior performance of the lithium ion batteries, to a large extent accounts for the superior performance of most electronic devices. However, when lithium batteries get old with time, special attention should be given to it. If these batteries are handled in the wrong way, it may result in fire, pollution, and other negative effects.
Lithium batteries contains several chemicals. If not disposed properly, it will result in significant consequences, such as environmental pollution and loss of resources.?The element lithium is highly reactive and difficult to control. Influences such as high temperatures, over high charging voltage, short circuit, or even too much of a heavy strain can cause exothermic reaction which releases energy through light or heat in the battery.
Lithium batteries contain a thin sheet of polypropylene that separates electrodes and prevents short-circuiting from occurring. Hence, if a device is crushed or punctured, a thermal event can result, as batteries short-circuit when the thin sheet separator between their positive and negative components are breached. The larger the battery, the stronger the thermal reaction. In this way, an improperly discarded battery could ignite other flammable material adjacent to it. Especially if large numbers of batteries are collected, where just one lithium-ion battery might ignite.
WHAT PERCENTAGE OF LITHIUM BATTERY CAN BE RECYCLED?
World wide, only 2-3% of old lithium batteries are recycled and reused. In Norway for instance, lithium batteries from cars are not often recycled. They usually end up as a waste when other metals it is mixed with arerecycled.
Lithium is a very rare metal, and is usually found in small quantities in the earth crust. Yet recycling is only minimally profitable. Most times, electric car owners get to pay in order to have their batteries recycled. There are several research groups that are now working on achieving 100% recycling of lihium batteries at maximum profit as these batteries are vital parts of electric cars and other battery-powered devices.
WHAT HAPPENS TO OLD LITHIUM BATTERY?
Credit: Shutterstock, NTB Scanpix
Some of these old lithium batteries are given a second life. Recycling of lithium batteries is just at its beginning. Battery recycling in general is encouraged all over the word because of the environmental risks and the impact on human health, as these battery packs contains heavy metals. Because of the raw materials used in battery production, many old batteries are seen to contain metals which are reported to be critical, due to scarcity or limitation in the number of exporting countries. Due to the little profit derived from the recycling of old lithium batteries, some have decided to dispose them for land filling.
Recycling of old lithium batteries will reduce the amount of materials going into land filling. However, other metals found within the battery could leak from the casing of buried batteries and cause soil contamination. Going through the recycling process can thus stop this soil pollution.