Earlier this month, Australia’s scientific body has called out to the government, industry, and researchers to work together to tackle the problem of lithium-ion battery recycling. CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation has reported that Li-ion battery waste is growing 20% each year. Australia produces 3 300 tonnes of Li-ion battery waste yearly, as only two percent of the battery is recycled. Ninety-five percent of the battery components are recyclable, but the technology just isn’t there yet. Australia sees this as an opportunity to emerge as world leaders in lithium-ion recycling technologies. The environmental and economical reasons for recycling these batteries are obvious, but the safety concerns are less frequently mentioned. Li-ion battery cells are subject to overheating when they are over charged, or over time as the separator between the cathode and the anode breaks down. Long term storage of the batteries can be dangerous because of the chemical and electrical hazards of the components, they can aid in combustion of the battery if the separator breaks down. Immediate action is required to recycle these batteries before storage facilities build up, and manufacturers continue to use fresh supplies of lithium, cobalt, nickel, and other metals in Li-ion batteries.
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