Lithium batteries are used massively, and the main question is what to do with old custom lithium batteries. If disposed of inappropriately, the old lithium batteries are hazardous, and they add up to the electronic waste. This article will help you learn how to recycle old custom lithium batteries.
Recycling old lithium batteries
Handling the lithium batteries at the end-of-life cycle phase of the electronic products is challenging and requires additional attention. When handled inappropriately, there are high risks of pollution and fire.
Why is processing lithium batteries as e-waste challenging?
There are three main reasons why it’s challenging to process old lithium batteries, and these are:
1. It’s hard to remove lithium batteries from the devices as they’re bonded to the hardware.
2. The lithium batteries damage easily during the dismantling process.
3. There are high risks of fire due to the high-temperature exothermic reaction.
How to identify lithium batteries
All lithium batteries have a li-ion identification mark, whether placed on the battery as a sticker or inscribed in the material.
What to do with electronic devices containing lithium batteries
• Remove the batteries from the devices and separate them before further material recovery.
• Get assistance from a specialist to remove the batteries from the device if you can’t separate them easily.
• Insulate the wires and battery terminals to prevent short circuit.
• Package the custom lithium batteries in UN-approved boxes/barrels and separate the layers with dry sand. Label each box/barrel correctly, indicating the category as undamaged batteries, damaged/swollen/leaking batteries or devices with swollen batteries.
• Put them in the designated drop-off center for lithium batteries. Recycle method for old lithium batteries
Recycling lithium batteries is only done by certified recyclers. The following processes are followed to recycle lithium batteries:
1. Deactivation process
This is the first procedure for recycling lithium batteries. The custom lithium batteries are completely discharged to remove the stored energy, thus preventing thermal effects. To avoid electrochemical reactions, the electrolyte is frozen during crushing. All polluting chemicals are also removed.
2. Duesenfeld patented process
This process involves evaporating and recovering the organic solvents present in the electrolyte through condensation. There are no toxic gases produced during this procedure.
3. Mechanical process
In this process, the batteries are crushed down. The separator sorts out coating materials, copper foil, and aluminum foil. Materials such as nickel, copper, and cobalt are taken from the cast for recycling, while lithium and aluminum are slag.
4. Hydrometallurgical process
This uses an aqueous procedure to recover lithium. Lithium is sorted out in the mechanical process from the coating material. The metal is recovered through extraction, leaching, crystallization, and precipitation.
Lithium batteries are very advantageous as they can be recharged thousands of times. However, the custom lithium batteries reduce their life cycle with time, and eventually, they spoil. Disposing of them is very challenging compared to other electronic waste as when mishandled they can lead to pollution and fire. Follow the above handling tips and recycling method to eliminate any danger associated with this hazardous waste.