Fine Grinding Project to Boost UK Battery Recycling

A new research project designed to recycle metals from end-of-life portable batteries is using a patented fine grinding technology to reduce the black mass solid inner core of alkaline batteries into a powder form.

A new research project designed to extract and recycle metals from end-of-life portable batteries is using a patented fine grinding technology to reduce the ‘black mass’ solid inner core of alkaline batteries into a powder form.

The aim of the project is to develop an economically viable means of extracting and reusing valuable metal concentrates from discarded batteries.

The ReCharge project is being funded by the UK’s Technology Strategy Board, which supports businesses in developing new products, and is being managed by technology innovation centre the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), which has expertise in developing, proving, prototyping and scaling up next generation products and processes.

As part of the scheme, specialist fine grinding technology developed by Gateshead, UK based International Innovative Technologies (IIT) is being used to reduce the ‘black mass’ solid inner core of alkaline batteries into a powder form.

According to IIT, after reducing the black mass to a powder, the material is then suitable for treatment by different chemical and biological processes to extract the various metallic ions present, including zinc, carbon and manganese.

The company said that engineering advances it has made have enabled the development of specialist powder processing technology that replaces traditional milling systems with compact, high output, modular units.

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The new vertical milling system is said to be highly energy efficient and therefore particularly suited to the fine grinding of hard and abrasive materials.

Regulations

IIT explained that with the UK Battery Waste Regulations now in force, the volume of battery waste required to be recycled is increasing.

However, the UK currently has no processing facilities for portable battery waste, with all collected batteries currently being exported for recycling purposes.

Furthermore, the company noted that in spite of the growing number of retail and household recycling collection points, several thousand tonnes of harmful battery waste are still going into landfill.

To overcome this situation, the company said that it is its experience of sustainable processing and the biological recovery of metals, and is working with the project partners to design a process to recycle the metals from batteries for re-supply into a range of manufacturing applications.

Once developed, the company said that it intends to apply the technique to other waste streams with high metal concentrations.

IIT added that its m-series technology is already being utilised in a number of glass and Glass Reinforced Plastic (GRP) recycling applications and is also suitable for the low energy milling of a wide range of natural raw materials, minerals and industrial products, including aluminium oxide, silicon carbide, zirconium, limestone products‚ coal‚ GRP, fly ash and different types of furnace slag.

The consortium of companies involved in the ReCharge research programme also includes G&P Batteries and hazardous waste company, Augean.


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