Thursday, April 5, 2012

Are Lithium Ion BatteriesSustainable to the Environment? -(II)

In our previous article, we spoke about the importance of recycling the valuable batteries, but while doing so, various costs are involved and it is observed that the cost of logistics is higher than the cost of recovering the scrap. But aren?t the social and environmental factors important, while recycling the battery? Lets read on to find out how Lithium Ion batteries are vital, considering their recyclable nature and find out if any countries are sincerely paying heed to the recycling of batteries?

What is the process of recycling old batteries?
Old batteries are shredded with the help of hammer mill, breaking out the components- aluminum, cooper, steel and separating them easily. Larger batteries that might still hold a charge are cryogenically frozen with liquid nitrogen before being hammered and shredded; at -325 degrees Fahrenheit, the reactivity of the cells is reduced to zero. For extracting lithium, the battery chambers are flooded and dissolved into lithium salts, which are filtered out and used to produce lithium carbonate. The remaining sludge is processed to recover cobalt, which is used to make battery electrodes. About 95 percent of the process is completely automated.

The significance of metals used in Lithium Ion batteries: -

Cobalt is very important to human life and health, as Vitamin B-12 contains cobalt. Besides, cobalt is used in various decorative arts-ceramics, pottery and industrial applications- production of jet engines and gas turbine engines for energy generation.

Copper is used in building construction, power generation and transmission, electronic product manufacturing, and the production of industrial machinery and transportation vehicles.
Nickel is mainly used to produce stainless steel in order to result into a stable, ductile, corrosion resistant and an austenitic structure. It is largely used in domestic kitchen equipment and utensils.
Iron ore largely contributes to the production of steel. Steel is used for construction, automobiles, and other forms of transportation such as trucks, trains and train tracks.

Slowly, the importance of these batteries is coming to light and many countries have become aware of the effectiveness of the recyclable batteries. There are many companies- Umicore, Toxco, working in the recycling sectors of Lithium Ion batteries.

The European Union has already restored to protection measures concerning battery recycling, as they have passed a bbattery recycling law and the vendors are required to reclaim for recycling a minimum of 25% of the batteries they manufacture and sell. Taking into account, the protection measures concerning battery recycling by European Union, how many more countries would go ahead and take the battery recycling initiative in their stride?

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