Advocates of environment conservation emphasize to use discarded items as much as possible to and find value in them. In line with the philosophy, scientists at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore have developed a new method to use fruit peel to recover and reuse valuable metals from out of use lithium-ion batteries to manufacture new batteries.
To demonstrate this, the team used orange peel, which extracted precious metals from waste batteries efficiently. Thereafter, the process involved creating functional batteries from extracted waste, resulting in minimal waste in the process.
The waste-to-resource approach addresses both electronics as well as food waste, say scientists. Such developments support the progress of a circular economy with zero waste, wherein resources are prolonged for use as long as possible. Approximately 50 million tons of e-waste and 1.3 billion tons of food waste is produced globally each year.
High volumes of e-waste necessitate alternate eco-friendly approach
Meanwhile, on a regular practice, out of use batteries are treated with high heat to melt valuable metals resulting in discharge of hazardous toxic gases. To address this, alternative approaches are being explored that use strong or weaker acid solutions. However, alternative methods still discharge secondary polluting substances that pose health and safety hazards, or use hydrogen peroxide which is harmful and unstable.
“Current industrial processes for recycling of e-waste consume high amount of energy, and release harmful polluting substances and liquid waste. This points at an urgent need for green methods with exploding volumes of e-waste,” stated the one of the associates involved in the research.
And, this is possible using biodegradable substances. Such findings add to the existing work at SCARCE under the university’s Energy Research Institute. Earlier, the SCARCE lab was created to develop eco-friendly ways of recycling e-waste.