Lead Battery Breaking System

Battery Crushing MachineNo matter which recycling technology is to be adopted, the batteries must always be drained before they enter the recycling process, since the acidic electrolyte produces several complications in the lead fusion-reduction. After drainage, batteries may or may not be broken, depending on the specific recycling process adopted.

Classic methodologies of lead recycling processes, including Water-Jacket Blast furnaces, reverberatory furnaces, electric arc furnaces, and short and long rotary furnaces, do not require battery breakage before the smelting process. The drained batteries are entered directly into the recycling process since pyrometalurgic techniques accept organic materials and other substances, which are burned or incorporated into the slag.

However, processes in which the batteries are broken prior to the recycling process are preferable due to:
(a) increase in the percentage lead production and decrease in the slag formation;
(b) possibility of soft lead production as well as antimonial lead;
(c) possibility of polypropylene recovery;
(d) simplification of furnace smoke treatment;
(e) pyrometalurgical techniques cannot accept the acid from battery electrolyte.

Furthermore, improvements in the battery production industry lead ultimately to the production of sealed batteries and other systems which are no longer easily drained. Therefore, an increasing amount of batteries must be broken before entering the recycling process.

Before the 1960’s, batteries were opened mainly by ax just when the recycling process demanded a lower organic content into the furnace otherwise they were inserted directly into the furnace. Although this situation has changed in most countries, especially in the developed ones, unfortunately it has not in most developing countries. It must be stressed, however, that manual breaking of batteries should be avoided at all costs, not only because it is a major source of human health contamination but also because it is an environmentally unsound management of these wastes. Nevertheless, some modern smelting plants still require manual breaking of big industrial batteries that cannot be broken by normal apparatus due to its size. If such technique is needed, all proper measures must be taken to provide protection to the workers and the environment.

During the decades of 60’s and 70’s, the battery breaking evolved into a mechanical guillotine or saw that greatly reduced human contact with the breakage process. They were also supplemented by automatic feed and were the first examples of entirely mechanized systems, some of them are still in use.

From the 1980 onwards, most of the modern smelting plants were adopting a totally mechanized system in which the batteries were received, transported and broken into sufficiently small pieces in order to separate the battery constituents:

The modern battery breaking process starts with the arrival of used batteries at the recycling facility. Human contact is usually minimized as much as possible so the used batteries are received and directed to the breaking apparatus by means of automatic mats or small wagons whenever possible.

Once the batteries arrive at the breaking machine, they are processed in the hammer mills, or other crushing mechanisms, that break them into small pieces. This breakage procedure ensures that all components, such as lead plates, connectors, plastic boxes and acid electrolyte are easily separated in the subsequent steps.

After breakage, the lead oxides and sulfates are separated from the other materials by gravity in water by a system of moving mesh conveyers. After separation, they are directed to a furnace, in case of pyrometalurgic techniques, or for other processes, for example hydrometallurgical techniques.

After the first rough breakage, sometimes there are other crushing mechanisms that further decrease the size of the remaining materials. The metallic parts, including lead plates, grids, connectors and terminals, are then separated from the organic parts, which include boxes, either polypropylene, ebonite or PVC, in the form of the plate separators, etc., by means of density difference in hydraulic separators which differ from process to process.

Other processes, through use of density properties and hydraulic mechanisms, separate the broken battery pieces in three different layers: the first one is constituted of light fractions such as plastics, the second is constituted of fine granular pieces of lead oxide and sulfates and the third one is the heavy layer consisting of lead plates, connectors, etc. This method, therefore, lacks the filtration step in order to remove lead compounds prior to plastic recovery. However, the complexity of these systems make them difficult to regulate and use.

After these separation steps, the organic layer is further separated into polypropylene wastes (called light organics), and separators and ebonite (called heavy organics). The light organics are then washed to remove traces of lead oxides, milled to small pieces, according to their future use, while the ebonite and separators are conveniently stored. Unless the breakage system is connected to the oven in a continuous process, the lead compounds and metallic parts are also stored until further processing.

Battery breaking methods differ from one another in process details and evolve as new technology becomes available. The suitability of each one for a given lead recovery plant depends on several specific factors such as local economy, quantity of raw materials as well as the demands of the smelting facility. Some examples of these systems are the Metaleurop, Bunker Hill, Gravita Technomech and MA Engineering, which can be understood in detail by consulting specialized references.

Nevertheless, every effort should be made to eliminate the use of manual battery breaking and the health and safety risks that are associated with this practice. If mechanical battery breaking equipment is unavailable, for whatever reason, the safest approach to prepare the battery for smelting would be the following: puncture and drain the electrolyte for the battery and treat it accordingly; remove the top of the battery complete with plates and separators using a circular saw and observing the correct use of guards and protective equipment; send the plates and grids with the top of the battery to the smelter; return the battery case to the manufacturer for reuse.

This section, and the other two sections in the lead reduction and lead refining processes, is not designed to describe or extensively list all possible sources of contamination that may occur in the lead recovery processes, since this is almost an impossible task. It is designed, instead, to itemize just a short and predictable list of common contamination sources and where to look when searching for them. Specific sources of contamination will have to be determined in the light of the process employed. Methods of contamination prevention will be treated in the environmental protection chapter. That stated, the common sources of environmental impacts in the battery breaking process are then:

(a) Spilling batteriesacid electrolyte and lead dust contamination source: battery spillage may be a very common source of environmental contamination as well as human health injuries since the electrolyte is not only a strongly corrosive solution but also a good carrier of soluble lead and lead particulates. Therefore, if this solution spills in an unprotected area, it may contaminate the soil or injure workers. Besides, after spilling on unprotected soil, the soil itself becomes a source of lead dust once the solution evaporates and the lead becomes incorporated into soil particles which may be blown by wind or raised by vehicle transit;

(b) Manual battery breakingsource of human health injury and environmental damage through heavy spillage and lead contaminated dust formation: manual breaking usually relies on primitive tools, poorly protected workers and no environmental protection whatsoever. The situation is even worst in the case of sealed batteries, which are not easily drained, increasing dramatically the risk of heavy spillage and damage to human health. Therefore, it should be avoided at all costs;

(c) Mechanical battery breakingsource of lead particulate: the process of breaking batteries through crushing on hammer mills may spread lead particulate. However, the fact that the mill is sealed and uses copious quantities of water the formation of such particulates is prevented.

(d) Hydraulic separationscontaminated water leakage: the hydraulic separations, both metallic from organic and heavy organics from light organics, are usually preformed inside sealed machines and with a closed water system. However, if any water leakage occurs, it will be heavily contaminated by lead compounds;

(e) Plastic and ebonite chipscontaminated wastes: ebonite scraps removed from the breaking process may pose a problem, since they are usually contaminated by levels as high as 5% (w/w) of lead. Therefore, it is important that the final traces of lead are removed by a second wash, preferably in an alkaline solution, followed by another rinse prior to further treatment or disposal.

How Recycling Is Helpful To Environment & Industrial World

Helps in protecting the environment

RecyclingRecycling helps in the protection of the environment by reducing the waste that gets deposited in the landfills or burned in incinerator plants. It also helps in mitigating global warming by saving the energy in industrial production and helps in controlling air pollution and greenhouse gas that destroys the ozone layer. There are few measures through which environment is protected.

  • By mitigating global warming and reducing air pollution

By saving of energy through recycling in the industrial production, the use of fuels that emits harmful gases during production is minimized and the greenhouse gas emissions through factories and industrial plants are also lessened. Rather than burning the bio-degradable waste, recycling them contributes a lot of help in controlling the air pollution and greenhouse gases that depletes the ozone layer.

  • By reducing the waste products in landfills

By recycling the landfills which are mainly composed of non-biodegradable waste that takes long time to decompose lessens the waste materials that are placed into landfills making the most out of these materials. By not recycling the waste more and more garbage will fill up in the landfills which in turn pollute the environment. Engineered landfills in most cities are designed to contain toxic chemicals leaking from decaying solid waste from reaching our water systems.

Helps in saving energy and promotes efficiency

RecyclingRecycling is far more efficient and takes less energy, in terms of energy consumption to process recycled materials than to process virgin materials or something out of fresh raw materials. Done on a nationwide scale, this could lead to significant reduction in our energy costs. Saving energy also has its own benefits like decreasing pollution. This creates less stress on own health and our economy.

Helps in Building a Stronger Economy

Conservation of materials, cost-reduction, energy efficiency and job generation benefit of recycling adds up to help build a strong economy for our country. Jobs are being generated in the cities and towns and the government is enjoying huge savings in landfilling costs, garbage collection and electricity.

Helps in employment generation, economic development & tax revenue

Battery RecyclingRecycling creates mew business that process, haul and broker recovered materials, as well as companies that manufacture and distribute products made with these recycled materials. Recycling generates more jobs than landfilling or incinerating waste. Recycling creates 1.1 million U.S. jobs, $236 billion in gross annual sales and $37 billion in annual payrolls. Public sector investment in local recycling programs pays great dividends by creating private sector jobs. For every job collecting recyclables, there are 26 jobs in processing the materials and manufacturing them into new products. Recycling creates four jobs for every one job created in the waste management and disposal industries.

That’s a benefit we can’t lose sight of, in this time of recession and high unemployment rate. Unlike the waste management industry, recycling adds value to materials, contributing to a growing labor force including materials sorters, dispatchers, truck drivers, brokers, sales representatives, process engineers, and chemists. These jobs also generally pay above the average national wage, and many are in inner city urban areas where job creation is vital. The recycling and reuse industry generates billions in federal, state, and local tax revenues.

 Financially Rewarding

In today’s world, recycling is not only about being “green” and focusing on sustainability and environmental issues; it is also about increasing revenue while reducing costs through a professional recycling and waste-reduction program. The benefits of recycling to each of us, to society, and to the environment are our compelling reasons why we recycle. For many of us, recycling has become second nature – a way of life. It’s a small but extremely vital component of environmental protection – without recycling, all our efforts to protect the planet will be less effective, even futile. Let’s all continue recycling.

Helps in saving money

As the population of the world increases recycling is becoming increasingly more important. Our technologically advanced societies are creating more and products and packaging that look good and are indestructible, but can take centuries to break down.

In order to combat the rise of factors that are produced by non-environmentally conscious groups, it is up to the growing numbers of individuals and companies that want to inhabit a healthier planet to make a difference. Thousands of U.S. companies have saved millions of dollars through their voluntary recycling programs. They wouldn’t recycle if it didn’t make economic sense.