Batteries are becoming the new powerhouse of global activities
Time are changing. While once we relied on grid based electricity and fossil fuels, we are increasingly turning to batteries to power our every day lives. Our use of batteries is growing exponentially as new product types emerge.
Some fun facts about batteries
The earliest known battery was discovered by Wilhelm Konig in 1938. Konig discovered some clay pots in Bagdad, Iraq that contained an iron rod encased in copper. The pots were tested and found to also have contained some kind of acid, thought to be vinegar or wine. Konig concluded that these could be an example of a very early battery.
If you google “how to make a lemon battery” you will find a number of videos showing how to make a simple battery using a lemon (electrolyte), copper wire (cathode) galvanised nail – zinc (anode) Click here to watch a good informative example.
So what is inside a battery and which parts can be recycled?
Starting from the outside. Batteries are usually made up of one or more cells. Each cell has an external casing, usually made from metal or plastic, which has two terminals affixed to it – a positive and a negative.
Placement of the terminals vary – they may be side by side or have one on each end. Inside, the positive terminal is connected to the ‘cathode’ and the negative terminal is connected to the ‘anode’.
The type of materials that make up the cathode and anode for batteries vary depending on the different chemistry types. Electrons can flow between an electrolyte medium.
Typical materials used are shown in the table below.
|Alkaline - primary (single use)||Manganese dioxide||Zinc||Aqueous alkaline or potassium hydroxide|
|Lead acid||ULAB||Lead dioxide||Lead||Sulfuric acid|
|Lithium||Li-ion||Metal oxides of cobalt, nickel, iron, aluminium, or manganese||Carbon||Lithium salt in a solvent such as (organic, solid ceramic, ionic fluid, composites or other types of solvent)|
|Li-Ion||Li-ion||Metal oxides of cobalt, nickel, iron, aluminium, or manganese||Carbon||Lithium salt in a solvent such as (organic, solid ceramic, ionic fluid, composites or other types of solvent)|
|Nickel cadmium||NiCd||Nickel oxyhydroxide||Cadmium|
|Nickel metal hydride||NiMH||Nickel oxyhydroxide||Hydrogen absorbing alloy||Potassium hydroxide|