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Lead-acid battery is the most dominant portable energy source throughout the world. It provides low-cost energy/kWh, use a simple technology, and require materials that are abundantly available. Because of this, lead acid battery is widely used in automobiles, UPS, grid energy storage, golf carts and other battery electric vehicles (including hybrid vehicles), and submarines. The Spent Lead Acid Batteries (SLAB) contain dangerous and toxic contents such as lead, antimony, arsenic, and acids which contaminate the environment and pose a threat to public health. Recycling is the best choice to avoid these harmful effects. In North America, the SLAB recycling rate is near to 96%, the highest for any product in the economy. The high recycling rate is possible because the cost of recycling of lead is less than the mining and processing of lead from ore. The recycling of SLAB provides a critical and stable supply to battery industries, and reduces the need to mine for a new lead, and diverts batteries from landfills. Ongoing demand in different industries for lead-acid batteries will scale up its utilization thereby an immediate action is required for protection of the environment. Recycling proves to be the best option which not only conserves resources by effective utilization but also provides growth and potential market for lead-acid battery recycling.
Lead acid batteries are generally broken down into two main categories i.e. Flooded or Wet Cells and Sealed Lead Acid Batteries (SLA). Due to low-cost energy/kWh and ease of technology flooded lead batteries are the best choice of automakers. Sealed lead acid batteries provide power for critical operations such as air-traffic control towers, hospitals, railroad crossings, military installations, submarines, and weapon systems. In SLAB the first step for recycling is collection and separation for effective management of lead acid battery recycling. Hydrometallurgy process involves the use of the aqueous chemical solution to recover metal from its ore. Pyro-metallurgical process includes calcination, roasting, smelting, and refining. In calcination, a material is thermally decomposed followed by gasification in which gas and solid material reaction takes place. Smelting involves applying heat to ore in order to extract base metal followed by refining in which impurities in the metal is removed. Sulphuric acid is neutralized by the chemical process and the liquid is sent to a sewage water system.
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Lead acid batteries find its application in a varied business area like automotive, UPS, submarines, telecommunication, data centres, and much more and effective recycling process is needed which will drive the market growth. Implementation of Battery Directives by EU and alarming level of pollution which probably increase the necessity of recycling plant for lead-acid batteries. The high consumption of lead batteries by various sectors will encourage the recycling market.
Due to toxicity and high hazardous metal content, its storage and transportation are difficult which inhibits lead-acid battery recycling growth in the international market. Trained staff, provision of protective equipment, and close monitoring require which may increase overall recycling cost.
The notables of recycling companies of the lead-acid batteries are Excide Technologies, Umicore, Retriev Technologies, Gravita India Ltd., Call2Recyle, Gravita India limited, Battery Solutions, and Aqua Metals.
· Flooded Lead Acid Batteries
· Sealed Lead Acid Batteries
Absorbent Glass Matt
· Collection and Separation
· Hydrometallurgical Process
· Pyro-metallurgical Process
· Neutralization of Acid
· Electronics & Electrical Equipment’s
· North America (USA and Canada)
· Europe (UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Russia and Rest of Europe)
· Asia Pacific (Japan, China, India, Australia, Southeast Asia and Rest of Asia Pacific)
· Latin America (Brazil, Mexico and Rest of Latin America)
· Middle East & Africa (South Africa, GCC and Rest of Middle East & Africa)
The lead-acid battery recycling market has been segmented into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America, and Middle East & Africa. North America took an initiative on battery dumping which results in 96% recycling rate which is highest for any economic product. Notable tech giant’s HQ situated in this region which requires large data centres with high consumption of electronic equipment will push a recycling market in a positive way. In Asia Pacific, China, India and Southeast Asia countries are the top consumers of automobiles and consumer electronics, and battery-powered vehicles which have outstripped their domestic lead production. Thus, there is extensive growth potential for lead acid battery recycling in the region. European countries are highly sensitive in terms of implementing environment protection norms and has proven their ability to deal effectively with lead-acid battery recycling. The rolling project of e-public transport, shifting trend to energy storage system, space and defence development which require high battery backup will increase overall recycling growth in Europe.
Key Industry Developments
· In March 2019, China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment collaborating with other departments to crack down illegal collection and dismantling of lead acid batteries and smelting lead.
· In May 2018, The agreement has been signed between Gravita India Limited and Amara Raja Batteries for lead acid battery scrap collection and recycling arrangements.
· In March 2018, Aurelius Environmental in association with Dr. Vasant Kumar (Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy) secured a grant of over £4,65,000 from Innovate UK to develop clean lead-acid battery recycling in Brazil.