Lead Battery Safety
While the battery industry is the world’s largest consumer of lead in the world, the chief sources of lead in the environment—and lead exposure to people—have been transportation, paint, and storage and preparation of water and food. Examples of this exposure include leaded gasoline, leaded paint, lead glaze on pottery, lead in water pipes and fixtures and lead solder. Association with these products and their issues has led to several lead battery myths, making lead batteries a misunderstood product.
An established infrastructure of lead mining and mature manufacturing has made lead batteries one of the most cost-effective energy storage technologies. Lead batteries come out on top as the lowest cost of energy and power output per kilowatt-hour. Well-established and stable mining, together with years of perfecting the recycling process, has created a dependable supply source. In fact, 74% of lead used in manufacturing new lead batteries comes from recycling.
How a Lead Battery Is Recycled
The battery is broken apart in a hammer mill, a machine that breaks the battery into pieces.
The broken battery pieces go into a vat, where the lead and heavy materials fall to the bottom while the plastic rises to the top. At this point, the polypropylene pieces are scooped away, and the liquids are drawn off, leaving the lead and heavy metals. Each of the materials then begins its own recycling journey. We’ll begin with the plastic, or polypropylene.
The polypropylene pieces are washed, blown dry and sent to a plastic recycler where the pieces are melted together into an almost-liquid state. The molten plastic is put through an extruder that produces small plastic pellets of a uniform size. those pellets are sold to the manufacturer of battery cases, and the process begins again.
The lead grids, lead oxide and other lead parts are cleaned and then melted together in smelting furnaces. The molten lead is poured into ingot molds. Large ingots, weighing about 2,000 pounds are called hogs. Smaller ingots, weighing 65 pounds, are called pigs. After a few minutes, the impurities, otherwise known as dross, float to the top of the still-molten lead in the ingot molds. The dross is scraped away, and the ingots are left to cool. When the ingots are cool, they are removed from the molds and sent to battery manufacturers, where they are re-melted and used in the production of new lead plates and other parts for new batteries.
Used battery acid can be handled in two ways. The acid is neutralized with an industrial compound similar to household baking soda. This turns the acid into water. The water is treated, cleaned, and tested to be sure it meets clean water standards. Then it is released into the public sewer system. Another way to treat acid is to process it and convert it to sodium sulfate, an odorless white powder that’s used in laundry detergent, glass, and textile manufacturing. This takes a material that would be discarded and turns it into a useful product. Acid can also be reclaimed and reused in new battery products through innovative recycling processes.
Safe Recycling Practices
Identifying Lead Batteries from Lithium-Ion Batteries
There is serious risk of fire and explosion if a lithium-ion battery enters the lead battery recycling stream. While batteries can appear similar, it is important to make sure lead and lithium-ion batteries are properly identified and sorted.
In an effort to decrease and ultimately eliminate lithium batteries from entering the lead battery recycling stream, BCI has created a lithium battery training toolkit designed to be incorporated into companies’ onboarding programs and learning management systems (LMS). The toolkit includes a video, poster and flyer, each developed to aid lead battery sorters and handlers in identifying lithium batteries.
Packaging and Transporting Batteries
Lead batteries must follow specific regulations when being packaged for transport. Click the following link to take you through the packing requirements for both industrial and SLI batteries. Learn more
Battery Recycling – How Does It Work?
Packaging and Transporting Batteries
- Collect the batteries and palletize them according to the packing instructions.
- Let us know you have scrap batteries ready for recycle.
- Have pallets or batteries ready for collection on your next order delivery.
- Deliver the pallet(s) to any of our two locations.
- Or Ship the pallets or container to the Port Of Miami – we will arrange for custom clearance and transportation to our warehouse.
- Each pallet is weighed on a pallet scale and tare weight is subtracted.
- The dollar value is calculated and fees subtracted: brokerage fee, custom clearance, transportation fees, etc.
- Receive the value of the cores in one of two ways:
- As a credit applied to your account at Battery Sales.
- Or in the form of a check/wire transfer.