Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts Waste Technology and Innovation Study

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Crushing and separation - Battery components are separated by crushing and screening to produce electrolyte, paste and solids. The solids components can then be separated into PVC ebonite, grids metal and polypropylene;

  • Electrolyte collection - Electrolyte that escapes during battery handling can be filtered and sold as a pickling agent for various industrial processes;

  • Refining and smelting - The non-ferrous metallic components of lead-acid batteries are processed in rotary furnaces to produce a raw lead product. This is smelted and cast to produce ingots of refined lead and lead alloys. A secondary lead smelter will be built in Newcastle by battery recycler HydroMet. The new plant will have the capacity to process 36,000 tonnes of used lead acid batteries, about one third of the batteries on the Australian market; and

  • Paste desulphurisation – The paste that is separated from the crushing and screening of lead-acid batteries can be desulphurised to produce a desulphurised paste product. The filtration solution can be passed though a crystalliser to form sodium sulphate crystals that can be sold to detergent manufacturers.
          1. Emerging technologies

    Leaching is an emerging technology for the treatment of waste automotive batteries and is similar to hydrometallurgy, where metals are dissolved out of the batteries for recovery.

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