A Closer Look at the Battery Recycling Process 

Many industries are finding more and more ways to make their batteries more efficient and reliable considering how much people rely on them. As part of making batteries more accessible, battery recycling came into the picture. 

These days, many items can be recycled, including used or old electronic devices. Not only are we trying to make batteries more accessible, but even when batteries live out their life, they still contain components that can be used in new products. In fact, your car battery or any other batteries you may own could possibly be made out of those used products. 

The process of battery recycling is rather intricate and may be different for each kind of battery out there. We’ve put some information together to help you understand a little more about how the process typically looks when it comes to battery recycling. 

The Different Kinds of Batteries That Can Be Recycled 

Based on their internal makeup, batteries can be made out of several kinds of materials. The most common batteries are made out of alkaline/zinc carbon. Rechargeable batteries are heavy in nickel-cadmium, nickel-metal hydride, or lithium-ion/polymers. There are also lead-acid-based batteries, found in bigger materials or systems. Each of these battery types, although they differ in chemistry, can be recycled. 


The first step in battery recycling is the process of collection. Many manufacturers run recycling programs, where customers can take their old or used materials. From the site of the manufacture or disposal site, a recycling company will collect the batteries. If you want to know more about where you can recycle your batteries, you can get in touch with your county or city waste disposal department. 


Once batteries have been collected and relocated, the batteries are then broken apart. At these recycling facilities, recyclers use hammer mills to crush the batteries into smaller fragments. Chemical separation, mechanical separation, and smelting soon come into the picture, depending on what kinds of batteries are being recycled. Mechanical separation is the more common means of crushing and separation of recyclable materials within batteries. 


In this step, recyclers separate plastic materials in a battery from metal components. Both materials are good for creating new products. The sorted batteries are stored and carefully identified to avoid further mixing. In this step of the process, lithium batteries need to be handled with special care as arcing can occur if the batteries have any energy that still may be stored in their materials.


Although most plastics are removed during sorting, recyclers have to go an extra mile by removing thermoplastics within the batteries. After they remove these thermoplastics, they can then sieve out the liquid in the batteries and leave the dry lead components. The lead and heavier metals move ahead in the process for the final step of recycling. 

Considering plastics are also handled during this step, they will undergo washing. Recyclers send these thermoplastics to recyclers who reprocess them for newer products. 


Nearing the end of the process, recyclers extract lead and heavy metals from the battery remains. Recyclers use liquid solutions to recover metals and they also use high temperatures to take out and refine metals. These metals undergo heating, smelting, and refining to result in molten lead. Recyclers use this molten lead to create a mold for manufacturers to make new batteries. 


Once materials are pulled apart and relocated, batteries also relocate to facilities where they can recover valuable materials and capture any pollutants that may still be present in the bodies of these batteries. Shipped loads are once again sorted to reduce the risk of contamination. Batteries may also be heated and stored at high temperatures to evaporate and condense materials.

Recent Developments in Battery Recycling 

Research and development teams are working on new processes to extract raw materials from batteries. Companies overseas are looking for new ways of separating manganese and zinc metals from black mass, but the process is still costly. 

Studies show that it may be possible to transform black mass from alkaline batteries into fertilizers, but speculation stays the same regarding the presence of heavy metals in the final product. 

Learn More About the Batteries that Operate Everyday Life 

At Interstate Batteries, we carry and provide the batteries that help operate vehicles and systems we utilize on a daily basis. The recycling of these components plays a major role in the availability of batteries everywhere. Whatever kind of batteries you may need, we’re here to provide. Contact us today to learn more about the products we carry. 

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