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What do I do With Old Lithium Batteries-Proper Disposal

What do I do With Old Lithium Batteries-Proper Disposal

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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.

In order to prevent such negative effects from taking place, as a manufacturer,  there are certain things you should do for proper battery disposal. They are listed below:

1.Ensure batteries are removed from devices, and kept away from the main device, before further material recovery is carried out.

2.A specialist should be consulted for battery removal, in cases where the battery could not be easily separated from device. The specialist should have the appropriate permit at his facility.

3.After removal, the battery terminals should be well insulated to avoid short circuit.

4.The battery should be kept in UN-approved barrels or boxes, separating layers with dry sand and vermiculite.

5.The aforementioned UN-approved barrel process should be followed for damaged packages, and additionally package leaking or swollen batteries in plastic

There are also certain things that you shouldn’t do when it comes to the disposal of lithium batteries. They include:

1.Disposal of lithium batteries with regular waste.

2.Crush, puncture, throw or do anything to the batteries that might result in electrodes touching and short-circuiting

3.Mix damaged and non-damaged batteries

4.Place large numbers of batteries together without proper segregation, as this might result in fire hazard

5.Place batteries, or products containing batteries, in any process that is not specifically designed to accommodate batteries

6.Storing of discarded li-ion batteries inside the home as these have a high tendency of short-circuiting and catching fire.

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.

ARE USED LITHIUM BATTERIES WORTH ANYTHING?

There is a growing popularity in the manufacture and use of electric vehicles. This increase in popularity also leads to an increase in the amount of money spent on lithium-ion batteries. It was predicted by industry analysts that in 2020 alone, china will generate some 500000 tonnes of used batteries, and by 2030, 2million metric tonnes of used batteries per year will be generated worldwide.

If the current trend for disposal of used batteries continues, most of these used batteries will end up in land fill. However, these batteries can be recycled. Only when recycled can these batteries really be worth some value. When recycled, it will be discovered that these power packs contain valuable metals and other materials that can be recovered, processed and reused. Only few recycling of used lithium batteries are done these days. In Australia for instance, only 2-3% of used lithium batteries are collected and sent offshore for recycling. Also,in the united states and European union, only less that 5% are recycled.

In America, about two billion lithium batteries are dumped into the waste stream. Unlike the lead battery whose scrap value is between $1000 to $3000 per ton of lead, the scrap value of lithium battery is only $100 per ton. In the process of recycling, the cost of collection, sorting, and shipping could be off-set by the cost of other materials that are found inside the lithium battery, these include cobalt whose recycling cost is lower than that of mining. This in effect implies that lithium is less expensive as compare to the other materials used in the production. Recycling could prevent future shortage.

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.

 

 

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