Recycling Mystery: Bulging Lithium-Ion Batteries

Recycling Mystery: Bulging Lithium-Ion Batteries

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Lithium-ion batteries are the driving drive behind merchandise which have redefined life over the previous 20 years, from smartphones to laptops. However, once they fail, lithium-ion batteries could cause fires that produce toxic fumes. A bulging battery is a transparent signal of a malfunction that requires quick consideration. Still, you may recycle it in the event you deal with it safely.

Recycling lithium-ion batteries reduces the necessity to extract lithium, and reusing the fabric would be the keystone of a sustainable, electrified life. Meeting the objectives for reducing car emissions by 2030 would require the world to supply three times as much lithium annually in comparison with 2023.

By 2050, virtually 20 occasions extra lithium battery capability can be required to energy electrical automobiles, backup the electrical grid, and preserve folks linked to the web. Recycling each ounce of lithium out there, even from malfunctioning batteries, can assist meet that purpose.

Spotting A Problem Battery

The indicators of a malfunctioning battery are simple to acknowledge. Swelling of the battery pouch brought on by increasing fuel can distort the form of the system it powers. For instance, the iPhone within the photograph beneath popped open as a result of the lithium-ion pouch had swollen to about twice its unique thickness. If you discover a laptop computer touch-pad that has shifted, it signifies that the battery has expanded a lot that it bent the metallic round it.

A bulging lithium-ion battery pouch.

Other indicators of an approaching battery failure embrace overheating, leaking chemical compounds that point out the pouch burst, and a wierd chemical odor. While overheating is an increasingly common issue with many new electronics, it is best to take note of your laptop computer or cellphone changing into unusually sizzling, notably when not in use.

When You Find A Bulging Battery

Any leakage of battery fluid is a essential situation and requires quick consideration. First, get the battery or system out of the home — a bucket partially crammed with sand or setting it in a cool, dry location outdoors will do. Take care to not come into contact with the fluid by sporting gloves and an apron and defending your eyes with goggles. Do not use water to wash up spilled battery chemical compounds, as lithium blended with water is corrosive. Thoroughly clear any spilled materials with an absorbent pad. Send the lithium materials and something you employ to wash it to your native hazardous waste facility.

Preventing a hearth is your first concern while you uncover a malfunctioning lithium-ion battery. Immediately unplug the system and switch it off. Do not try to cost a bulging battery. If the battery bursts into flames, use an ABC fire extinguisher to place it out. CO2 hearth extinguishers or water is not going to be as efficient.

Move the system and battery to a colder location. Lithium is most secure between 40 and 80 levels Fahrenheit, so don’t place it within the solar when shifting it outdoors. Cooling or freezing the battery poses a priority when it’s warmed later as a result of the temperature change could cause a response.

If attainable, take away the battery from the system and place the battery in a fire-proof container away from flammable supplies — such because the bucket described above. Only do that in the event you’re certain you are able to do it safely; don’t put your self in danger.

Ventilate the world to disperse any doubtlessly dangerous gasses.

Do not place the battery or a tool containing a malfunctioning battery within the trash. They could cause fires in your rubbish can, the rubbish truck, or at any step within the waste sorting course of. Do your neighbors and waste administration employees a favor and take the steps to recycle.

Storing the Bulging Battery Before Recycling 

Once a battery is discharged, it isn’t more likely to explode or burn spontaneously. If there are uncovered contacts, tape them to keep away from an unintentional spark that would trigger a hearth.

Follow the steerage to keep away from moisture, warmth, and freezing temperatures when storing the battery till you may take it to a hazardous waste facility. Avoid storing the battery in a sealed container, as this might entice harmful gasses that endanger the recycling employee who opens it.

Loosely wrapping the battery in a plastic bag will do the job. Label the bag and if required by the recycling facility, present extra info resembling the kind of battery. And while you go to a hazardous waste facility, you should definitely level out the danger of the bag and its contents to employees.

Add your ZIP Code in Earth911’s Recycling Locator to discover a hazardous waste facility close to you. Before visiting, we recommend you name to find out about their pointers for bulging batteries.

Finishing the Job: Recycling

It is finest to keep away from sending your malfunctioning battery or system to a mail-in program. The U.S. Postal Service had designated lithium batteries as hazardous waste that can’t be air-shipped, and any bundle containing them must be marked “HAZMAT.”

When you transport the battery in a car, make sure it’s secured and can’t fall or be punctured or crushed by different objects.

Batteries play a extra distinguished function in every day life, and a few are certain to fail. Being ready to acknowledge a malfunctioning battery, realizing tips on how to deal with it safely, and taking the additional steps to recycle it responsibly can contribute to a extra sustainable society.