Facts about Battery Recycling Battery recycling is an activity that aims to lessen the number of batteries being disposed off as solid waste. A battery contains several heavy metals as well as toxic chemicals which if not carefully discarded can lead to contamination of the soil and pollution of our water resources. Most batteries can be recycled. However, some batteries can be recycled more easily than others. These include lead-acid automotive batteries and button cells which can be recycled by almost 90%. Other types, such as alkaline and rechargeable batteries are also recyclable. The recycling process is simple and 70% of the weight of the battery is made into reusable lead. As a result, over 50% of the lead supply is derived from recycled batteries. Other types of batteries such as mobile phone and consumer batteries are not too easily recycled, and several organizations are trying to discover ways of collection of spent batteries easier. Only about 20% to 40% percent of such batteries are currently recycled. The main aim of battery recycling is to prevent hazardous waste from being disposed in landfills. Lead acid and nickel-cadmium batteries are especially harmful so one needs to make sure that these are stored and disposed off carefully. Do not store old lead acid batteries in households with small children, as simply touching the lead poles can be harmful. Despite the fact that they are not eco friendly, lead acid batteries continue to occupy a strong market position. Lead acid batteries are used in battery operated cats, wheel chairs and UPS systems. Among rechargeable batteries, nickel-cadmium ones are most used and are critical to the functioning of commercial aeroplanes and sightseeing boats in large rivers. Unfortunately, there is still no alternative for toxic batteries. However, there is nothing wrong in using these batteries as long as we remember to dispose them properly. Nickel-cadmium (NiCd) batteries were banned in Europe because a suitable replacement, the NiMH battery was found. The longterm damage to the environment if NiCd batteries are not discarded properly could be devastating. The battery recycling process begins by sorting the batteries into separate chemicals. Collection facilities place lead acid, nickel-metal-hydride, nickel-cadmium, and lithium ion batteries into separate drums or boxes. This separation according to different chemicals makes the recycling process more profitable. Once the batteries are sorted, the combustible material, such as plastics and insulation is removed using a gas-fired thermal oxidizer. Then, the pollutants released during the burning process are eliminated with the scrubber in the plant, before they are released into the atmosphere. This leaves the clean and stripped cells with only their valuable metal content. These cells are then cut into small pieces and heated until the metal gets liquefied. The result is that non-metallic substances are burned off which leave a black scum on top which is removed by a slag arm. The alloys then settle according to their weight and are skimmed off from the surface while they are still in liquid form. So, the next time you buy batteries for your laptop or your mobile phone charger, make sure that you dispose them and store them carefully.
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