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Used Battery Pile
As hybrid and electric vehicles become more popular, they eventually will also create their own unique problem, the safe disposal and recycling of their large battery packs. Several companies already have infrastructure in place to make sure we don't replace one problem with another.

Solving the Other EV Battery Problem

Inmetco's Tim Cimperman explains how his company is tackling the EV battery disposal issue long before it exists.

By Tim Cimperman

Although lead acid automobile batteries have been recycled for many years, spent EV and HEV batteries are relatively new to the marketplace. Lead acid EV and HEV batteries can be recycled through the same channels that handle the lead acid starter batteries used in more conventional automobiles. However, nickel cadmium, nickel metal hydride and lithium ion batteries need to be directed to a facility equipped to handle these types of chemistries. Inmetco is such a facility.

Inmetco opened in 1978, near Pittsburgh, PA. Inmetco is a wholly owned subsidiary of Inco Limited, a leading supplier of nickel worldwide, including specialty nickel powders and nickel foam for the battery industry. The facility's original purpose was to provide a nickel, chromium and iron reclamation option to Inco's stainless steel customers. In 1995, the facility was expanded to process batteries. This included cadmium retort vessels, a thermal oxidizer, equipment for industrial battery disassembly and other related equipment. The cadmium plant was expanded in 1996 and again in 2000 and it is the only permitted cadmium recovery plant in North America.

Inmetco processes all the nickel cadmium batteries collected by the non-profit Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC), which is funded by the battery manufacturers. The RBRC has collection boxes in thousands of retail locations throughout the country, including most Walmarts, Kmarts, Radio Shacks and Lowe's Home Improvement Centers. The RBRC also works with many companies and government organizations to encourage rechargeable battery recycling. Go to RBRC.com for more information.

There are numerous recycling companies, including most major fluorescent lamp recyclers, that provide battery collection, for recycling, to industry and government. Inmetco offers battery recycling to industry and government, including a pre-paid small box program that is very popular. It is expected that most EV/HEV dealers will take back spent batteries and handle the recycling of them.

Cadmium is recovered from consumer cell nickel cadmium batteries. Industrial or wet-cell nickel cadmium batteries, including EV batteries, are also processed in this same plant. The recovered cadmium is sent back to manufacturers for use in making new batteries and some other products.

Inmetco's recycling facility, which is fully permitted by the EPA and the PA DEP, includes a smelting operation where nickel, chrome and iron are reclaimed. Nickel metal hydride batteries are fed directly into this process. A remelt alloy product is produced, in ingot form, and is sent to the stainless steel industry for use in making new products. Lithium ion batteries are pre-processed and sent off-site for cobalt reclamation.

Inmetco has the experience, knowledge, process and permits to handle EV and HEV batteries. Lead acid batteries are accepted but sent elsewhere for processing. Nickel cadmium, nickel metal hydride and lithium ion batteries are the types that are Inmetco's specialty.

Please call or email Tim Cimperman 724-758-2849, tcimperman@inco.com for more information or visit Inmetco.com.

Times Article Viewed: 4325
Published: 23-Jun-2001

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