Lithium-ion batteries are found in almost every portable electronic device, such as mobile phones, laptops, and tablets. These batteries are also commonly found in workplaces and medical equipment devices. This is because lithium-ion batteries are rechargeable and have the potential to store a massive amount of energy even in a small space.
Since lithium-ion batteries are helpful, they can be hazardous to the environment. This is true that these batteries have a good capacity for storing power but this feature makes them susceptible to overheating – which can even lead to a fire or explosion.
In general, lithium batteries are safe, but there are a few things you should know to keep your workers and your facility safe.
Workings of Lithium-ion Batteries
It can be beneficial to comprehend how lithium-ion batteries function to comprehend why they may present a safety risk. Here’s a quick lesson on chemistry.
- Chemicals inside the battery disintegrate as the battery is used, creating ions and electrons.
- These ions move from the battery’s one end, creating an electron flow that releases energy.
- Regular batteries can only go through this procedure once before they stop functioning.
- Lithium-ion battery chargers, however, address this issue by employing a different power source to shift the ions in the other direction. This recharges the battery so that it can be used once more.
- This procedure depletes the battery over time. It eventually loses its capacity to maintain a charge.
Lithium-ion battery failure causes
There are only two or three battery packs per million that fail a lithium-ion battery, which is extremely rare. But when batteries are harmed or have manufacturing flaws, issues can arise. For instance, lithium-ion batteries in machinery can be harmed by moisture or extreme temperatures.
Alternatively, they could be thrown, broken, or pierced. Using excessive force to try to remove batteries from gadgets can occasionally cause damage. The heat that is generated when lithium-ion batteries malfunction starts a chain reaction known as thermal runaway. Explosions and fires are brought on by this quick release of heat and energy.
How Lithium-ion Battery Recycling Helps Reducing Environmental Causes?
Lithium-ion batteries are manufactured using rare-earth materials, such as lithium, cobalt, and nickel. These rare-earth materials are equipped through the mining process and are available in some specific countries. The mining process leads to costly procedures and can be the reason for both environmental and social issues.
Secondly, if these batteries are not disposed of properly, the elements used in the production can produce toxicity in the environment.
On the other hand, Li-ion battery recycling is the best way to extract the core material that can be used again in the manufacturing of these batteries. This will save the cost of battery manufacturers and also prevent the environment from being polluted.
What Is the Value of Recycling Lithium-ion Batteries?
Recycling lithium-ion batteries have the following advantages:
- Recycling will aid in the recovery of costly materials, according to environmentalists and battery experts. The two most often utilized and expensive cathode metals are nickel and cobalt. Over time, their prices have changed.
- Manganese and lithium concentrations are frequently higher than those of highly enriched ore in many LIBs, together with nickel and cobalt. Therefore, these metals can provide the same advantages as natural ore if they are recovered on a big scale from end-of-life batteries.
- Recycling would lessen the amount of electrical waste dumped in landfills.
- In nations like the Congo, about 50% of the cobalt used in batteries is sourced. In these nations, problems like illegal mining, environmental damage, violent conflicts, and violations of human rights have been pervasive. Recycling lithium-ion batteries would reduce reliance on these resources, increase supply chain security, and decrease the negative effects that these batteries have on people and the environment.
- In other words, increased recycling would reduce the need for virgin materials and harm the environment.
Recycling lithium-ion batteries needs specialized tools and procedures. Because of this, only well-trained and committed recycling teams are allowed to handle them. There are many battery recycling companies in India developed as a niche to recycle lithium-ion batteries and send them back to the supply chain. The adoption of electric vehicles in India is the main reason for this initiative.
One such battery recycling company is BatX Energies. This company believes in a circular economy where the used materials are recycled to send back to its supply chain rather than dumped into landfills. Similarly, the company collects end-of-life lithium batteries to extract the rare-earth material and send them back to the battery manufacturers. For more information, you can visit their website.