Tag Archives: batteries
When it comes to recycling, Americans are much more likely to take the green route with household items like aluminum cans and plastic bottles than they are with electronics. In fact, only 31 percent of people recycle single-use batteries, while more than 70 percent recycle steel, plastic and paper items, according to a poll conducted by Ipsos Marketing on behalf of Call2Recycle. Why the disparity when it comes to recycling batteries? Let’s take a look at one simple solution.
Recycling batteries, in a box
Tossing a milk jug into a blue bin is easier than hunting down an electronics recycler … or at least that was true until The Big Green Box began.
A program from Retriev Technologies, a company that offers environmentally sound battery recycling, The Big Green Box involves just three steps for recycling batteries: buy it, fill it, ship it. Here’s how it works:
Buy it. Purchase the Big Green Box at a low flat rate (prices start at $63). It will be shipped to your home or office and will come completely assembled. Place it wherever is most convenient for you or your co-workers/employees to toss used batteries.
Fill it. Inside the Big Green Box, you’ll find a set of plastic bags. As batteries and other electronic devices are used up, simply place the individual items in a separate bag — the bags prevent unintentional discharges or short circuits — and set them inside the box.
Ship it. Once your Big Green Box is full, or a year has passed since placing the first item into the box, drop it off at your local FedEx location or call 1-800-Go-FedEx to have your box picked up from your home or place of business for no charge. The batteries will end up at an EPA-permitted facility for proper end-of-life management.
Bunches of batteries
Although the box is one-size-fits-all, recycling batteries is not. Retriev Technologies has processes in place for all the following:
Alkaline batteries: Alkaline batteries are made primarily of zinc, manganese dioxide and steel, all of which can be made into new products. The batteries are shredded to separate the steel casing from the zinc and manganese active materials.
NiCd and NiMH batteries: Nickel Cadmium (NiCd) and Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH) batteries include nickel, cadmium (in NiCd only) and iron. Cadmium is a hazardous substance that can cause serious bodily harm if not properly captured, so Retriev uses a pyrometallurgical process for component separation.
Lithium ion batteries: Li-Ion batteries typically consist of cobalt and copper and may have nickel, aluminum and iron. The batteries are processed through an automated crusher, which operates under a liquid solution to prevent fugitive emissions and to reduce the reactivity of the processed batteries. The result is a metal-enriched liquid and metal solids, which can be reused in new products.
Lithium metal batteries: These highly reactive batteries are pre-treated using a proprietary cryogenic process to lessen their reactivity and to allow for further processing. They then go through an automated crusher that results in metal solids and lithium-enriched liquid.
Lead acid batteries: These batteries primarily consist of lead metal and plastic casings. The lead plates are removed from the plastic casing using an automated physical separation technology; the lead is eventually reused in new batteries and the plastic goes to recyclers to incorporate into new products.
In addition to batteries, The Big Green Box is designed to take small portable electronics such as cellphones, MP3 players, tablets, handheld power tools and miniature laptops or computers.
Order your very own box here, and do your part to make recycling batteries just as convenient as any other kind of recycling.
Editor’s Note: Earth911 partners with many industries, manufacturers and organizations to support its Recycling Directory, the largest in the nation, which is provided to consumers at no cost. Retriev Technologies is one of these partners.
Haley Shapley is based in Seattle, where recycling is just as cool as Macklemore, walking in the rain without an umbrella, and eating locally sourced food. She writes for a wide range of national and regional publications, covering everything from sustainability and health to travel and retail.
Latest posts by Haley Shapley (see all)
Recycling Batteries Is Easy With The Big Green Box – April 18, 2016
Make A Difference: Donate Your Computer Through InterConnection – March 24, 2016
Retriev Technologies Gives Old Batteries New Life – March 10, 2016
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This video is from last year but it popped up on Digg today and I really don’t care that it’s old because today is the first real work day of 2015 and that’s sad because work and the passage of time are two of the main reasons I’m going prematurely gray. So, instead of letting that frown sit unturned upside down, press play and, awwwww.
Here is a GIF of the moment when, in Mother Jones copy editor Ian Gordon’s words, “someone takes her batteries out.”
A startup based in Manhattan called Urban Electric Power is taking a stab at the energy storage problem. And rather than just store energy, the company is going one step further, by manufacturing completely non-toxic batteries rather than the usual corrosive chemical-filled variety.
One big problem with renewable energy—including wind, solar and wave energy—is storing it. If we could stock up on energy when the sun is shining brightly or the wind is blowing, then we could continue to produce power at night or during windless days. Stored energy can also offset demand for energy at peak times, when utility companies have to ramp up production.
Urban Electric Power is approaching this issues by updating an old battery technology. Energy.gov explains:
Inexpensive, non-toxic and widely available, zinc has long been known to be an excellent electricity storage material because of its high energy density. Invented more than 100 years ago, the zinc anode battery is still used today. Yet, for all its benefits, zinc has one major shortcoming — dendrite formation develops over the battery’s life, causing the battery to short after a few hundred cycles.
Basically, researchers have hit a roadblock when attempting to tap into zinc’s energy-storying potential because of that material’s annoying tendency to clump up. To get around this problem, Urban Electric Power designed a simple solution: just stir the zinc. Scientific American reports:
The key to preventing that degradation turns out to be flow. In the case of Urban Electric, that means little propellers attached by magnets to the bottom of the plastic container holding a series of zinc–manganese dioxide pouch cells. The fans circulate a fluid that keeps the flaws from forming, and the ions flowing in and out of the electrodes. That fluid also turns out to be cheap: water. The convection from a little bit of water flowing around the pouch cells prevents the formation of tiny fibers on the zinc electrode, known as dendrites, that kill off a typical alkaline battery. “We use very little flow,” Banerjee says. “It’s really just stirring.”
The design is so simple that the creators use little more than homemade pasta makers, restaurant-grade stirrers and rolling pins to make the chemical materials, SciAm adds.
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The state mandated utilities to install storage batteries to discharge power around sunset, a reversal of what most had seen as the norm. Original article: Catching Rays in California, and Storing Them ; ;Related ArticlesWisconsin Finds Another Role for Cheese — De-icing RoadsPouring Cheese on Icy Roads in (Where Else?) WisconsinEssay: The Wind Cries … Oe? ;
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Add this to the growing list of awesome stuff 3D printers make: a group from Harvard and the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana figured out how to print tiny batteries, no bigger than a grain of sand.
“To create the microbatteries, researchers used a custom-built 3-D printer to stack electrodes — each one less than the width of a human hair — along the teeth of two tiny gold combs. The electrodes were contained within a special ink, extruded from the printer’s narrow nozzles and applied to the combs like toothpaste being squeezed onto a toothbrush. The electrode inks, one serving as a cathode, the other as an anode, hardened immediately into narrow layers, one atop the other. Once the electrodes were stacked, researchers packaged them inside tiny containers and added an electrolyte solution to complete the battery pack. This novel process created a battery that could one day help power tiny medical implants as well as more novel electronics, like flying, insect-like robots. Such devices have been in development for some time, patiently awaiting an appropriately sized power source.”
Pretty great stuff, although if those insect-like robots are modeled after mosquitoes, we are happy to keep waiting patiently for their arrival, thank you very much. (Their real-life counterparts are irritating enough.)
These microbatteries join a long line of recent power-storage revolutions that have happened in just the past few years. None of these have made it to commercial-scale use yet, but it’s likely just a matter of time.
In 2011 researchers at Stanford announced they had developed a transparent and flexible battery, which they hoped would give rise to transparent and flexible electronics like phones.
Last summer, researchers at Rice University announced that they’d developed a spray-paint battery, able to be applied to household items, turning everyday objects into the next wave of power-carrying devices.
This year, that same Rice lab published a paper about using graphene nanoribbons (a single atom thick) to improve battery life.
Also last summer, engineers at the University of South Carolina figured out how to turn an ordinary t-shirt into a battery, hoping that one day it would be able to recharge electronics like phones and tablets.
Scientists at Oak Ridge are using water as a greener alternative to the solvents traditionally used in lithium ion batteries.
And the University of Maryland is also going green, using wood and tin to create batteries.
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