What Is Battery Recycling and How Can You Recycle Nickel Batteries?

Guest post by Erich Lawson

People use 4-5 wireless devices powered by batteries on an average in their daily lives. Batteries contain environmentally hazardous heavy metals, which must be removed from traditional waste treatment systems. While these batteries do not pose threat to humans when in use, they can affect human, animal and aquatic life if not disposed of properly. Like newspapers, glass and plastic, batteries can and must be recycled and help us save the environment.

Why Is It Important to Recycle Batteries?

Battery recycling is the process of reprocessing and reusing batteries to reduce the material waste. When properly recycled, the important metals can be recovered and used to make new products. It is important to recycle batteries to:

  • Avoid wasting scarce natural resources such as iron, zinc and nickel
  • Revalorize alloys and metals (steel, ferromanganese) that are used in many industries
  • Avoid introducing traces of heavy metals contained in certain types of batteries into the household garbage
  • Avoid introducing and dispersing heavy metals that are very toxic to humans, animals or the environment in open surroundings

Nickel Batteries

what is battery recycling

These batteries are commonly found in portable electronic devices, flashlights and emergency lights. Nickel batteries are broadly divided into two types - Nickel Cadmium and Nickel-Metal Hydride.  Nickel-Cadmium batteries are found in portable radios and scanners and Nickel-Metal Hydride Batteries are used in power tools, portable batteries, laptops and phone batteries.

Recycling nickel batteries is essential, as large quantities of nickel can be hazardous to human and animal health. Nickel batteries also contain heavy toxic materials like cadmium and thus require special care during disposal.

Recycling Nickel Batteries

Once recovered or brought for recycling, the batteries are subjected to shock treatment to extract the elements. The nickel batteries are successively crushed, filtered or heated at elevated temperatures to separate the metals by condensation. The recovered metals are then reused in other industries.

What Materials Are Recovered after Recycling and What are Their Uses?

Nickel, steel and cadmium are recovered, post-recycling, from nickel cadmium batteries. These alloys can then potentially be used in metal plating, steel industry and other batteries. After recycling Nickel-Metal Hydride Batteries, nickel and steel are recovered, which can be then be used in the steel industry. Nickel extracted from these batteries is also used in building and household accessories. The other recovered metals are placed in new production lines of new objects.               

How to Recycle: Type 1: Nickel-Cadmium Batteries (NiCd)

Following are the steps to recycle Nickel-Cadmium Batteries:

  1. The plastic is separated from the metal components.
  2. A high temperature metal reclamation (HTMR) process is used to recycle the metals.
  3. During this process, all the high temperature metals like iron, nickel, chromium and manganese are recovered in the furnace where they amalgamate and condense into solids during the casting process.
  4. The lighter metals like cadmium and zinc separate during the melting process and are cast separately.
  5. The plastic, high temperature metals and light metals are then sent for reuse.

How to Recycle: Type 2: Nickel-Metal Hydride Batteries (NiMH)

Following are the steps to recycle Nickel-Metal Hybrid Batteries:

  1. The plastic is removed from the battery.
  2. The batteries are then exposed to a heavy drying process to remove all the moisture.
  3. This drying process is designed to heat the batteries at the right temperature for a pre-defined period of time to get stainless steel and nickel from them which can be directly reused.
  4. The plastic and separated metals are then sent to the respective industries for reuse.
Erich Lawson.jpg

Erich Lawson is very passionate about the environment and is an advocate of effective recycling. He writes on a wide array of topics to inform readers on how modern recycling equipment can be used by industries to reduce monthly wastage bills and increase recycling revenue. You can learn more about environment saving techniques by visiting his blog on http://www.norcalcompactors.net/