Aurelius Technologies and the University of Cambridge have been awarded a £465,000 (~€534,500) grant for a new method for recycling waste battery paste.
The new method for recycling waste battery paste is energy-efficient, low-cost and scalable, and does not create pollution, meaning that it could avoid any environmental impact or expense of other methods. The technology will be tested in Brazil, in collaboration Aurelius’ Brazilian partner, Antares Reciclagem, which managed to secure £210,000 in funding as part of the same bid.
Brazil’s automotive industry is expanding rapidly, and along with a similar expansion in other developing countries, this is expected to drive growth in the global lead-acid battery market. According to Aurelius’ technology director, Dr Athan Fox, the global lead-acid battery market, which is forecast to reach $84bn (~€68.5bn) by 2025.
What are the challenges of lead acid battery recycling?
The current processes by which lead acid batteries are recycled require large plants and large scale to be employed cost effectively. In turn, this sometimes means that waste batteries must be transported across the country to be recycled, which also incurs an environmental impact.
Aurelius’ hydrometallurgical process, on the other hand, can reduce the carbon footprint of recycling waste battery paste by more than 80% compared to these current methods. Further, it eliminates the emission of noxious gases like sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide.
How successful is the technology?
Fox explained that the expansion of the automotive market in Brazil and elsewhere is driving demand for battery recycling: “More batteries on the road means an ever-increasing amount of battery waste, so our process for the recycling of lead-acid battery paste could not be more timely.”
Almir Trindad, CEO of Antares, added: “By recycling the waste battery acid we completely avoid neutralisation, saving 85kg of carbon dioxide for every tonne of electrolyte treated. Our process is not only green, but also saves money.”
Thanks to this success, this new collaboration between Aurelius and Antares is “taking Brazil and the UK a step closer to clean, economic and sustainable recycling of lead-acid battery waste,” Fox concluded.