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Your Guide to Recycling a Car Battery

Madhurjya Bhattacharyya
Batteries are the most important components in a car. Sadly, they don't run forever, and need to be replaced often. Instead of throwing away the old batteries, Recycling is a better option. Here are some options which will help keep the environment clean.
Most car batteries are made up of heavy metals, like nickel, cadmium, lead, mercury, and sulfuric acid, and these metals are a cause for environmental concern. If not disposed in the proper order, these poisonous chemicals and metals mix with the soil when the battery deteriorates, thereby endangering wildlife and polluting the soil.
There are several components in car batteries which mix with water and get into the food chain of human beings, due to which human life is endangered too. Due to these reasons, recycling has gained immense importance.

How to Recycle a Car Battery?

When you think of recycling car batteries, the first question that comes to mind is how to do it? To start with, you must not just throw away the battery in the dustbin along with your household wastes.
A car battery is made up of at least 3 and 21 pounds of plastic and lead respectively, and a gallon of sulfuric acid. Imagine the amount of toxins released to the atmosphere if a car battery is left in the open.
The first option you have for car battery recycling is to take it to a roundup. They are held each year to mark Earth Day. You can get the details of a roundup from a local AAA/CAA office.
While recycling a spent battery, all the components, be it metals or acids, are reused in new batteries. For example, the lead is normally used in new batteries again and again. Plastic found in batteries are also recycled to be used in other batteries, or are, at times, also made into other products.
Sulfuric acid is either neutralized and purified before it's released as pure water, or it is reused in other new batteries. Moreover, sodium sulfate can also be made from sulfuric acid to be used as a fertilizer or dyes.
Another option for recycling used car batteries is to take it to an automotive repair shop, which helps you get a new battery, while they keep the old one. Today, there are laws in some states which require you to recycle new lead-acid batteries once they are old, and when you buy a new battery you need to pay a deposit.
The process of recycling starts when combustible material like plastics and insulation are removed. A thermal oxidizer fired by gas is used for this process and the gases are sent to the scrubber of the plant which neutralizes and removes the pollutants. Through this process, the cells are cleaned and the valuable metal can be removed.
These cells are cut into small pieces, after which they are heated till the metal turns to liquid. On the other hand, substances which are non-metallic are burnt thereby leaving a black slag. As per the weights of alloys, they settle down and are then skimmed off.
At a very high temperature, cadmium vaporizes due to its light weight. The process seems as if you are pan boiling it. At times, while recycling, the metals are not separated, but are directly heated and then each metal is segregated to produce alloys.
Thus, recycling a car battery is a small, but important step which you can take to save the environment from harmful chemicals and pollutants. You need to remember that all poisonous metals, if released in the open, come back to us, either through the food we eat, or the water we drink, and can harm us in the long run.