An Australian company has managed to close the loop on the energy-metal cycle as they recover zinc and manganese from spent batteries, using the metal dust to create a micro-nutrient supplement for plant fertilizers.
The company, Lithium Australia, shared a press release in which they reported having successfully used the supplement on potted wheat plants in their lab.
Sustainable and ethical materials for battery companies
The Australian company looks to build a circular battery economy and focuses on supplying sustainable and ethical materials for battery companies.
The company's recycling division, Envirostream Australia, explained that around 6,000 tons of alkaline batteries are sold every year in Australia — that's around 158 million batteries — and that approximately 97% of these end up in landfills once they're used up. Lithium Australia hopes to minimize the carbon footprint of the battery industry, and one such method is by recycling their components into fertilizer.
The types of batteries the company reclaimed are on the smaller end of the scale, the ones usually found in remote controls and small toys. The company has found a way to extract zinc and manganese from them, which are the main components of alkaline batteries, turning them into supplements for fertilizer.
Lithium Australia has already been carrying out tests on its new product and plans on expanding this testing to farmland in western Australia, where the country grows most of its wheat. Given the soil in the area is known for being deficient in zinc and manganese, this addition to fertilizer could help bolster crops.
Safely and sustainably disposing of alkaline batteries has become a major issue around the globe. So finding a way and a method for reusing them in a safe and useful manner is essential.