The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) yesterday announced the initial results of a green technology treatment for lead acid battery waste which can reportedly remove up to 80 percent of heavy metals.
The EPA’s Recycling Fund Management Board said lead acid batteries are commonly used in electric vehicles, for uninterruptible power supplies at mobile phone base stations, emergency lighting systems and in forklift trucks, adding that the demand for the batteries is increasing.
According to the administration’s estimates, about 50,000 tonnes of lead acid battery waste are created every year. By recycling 40,000 tonnes of lead and about 3,000 tonnes of plastic, an output worth about NT$1.42 billion (US$49 million) could generated annually.
The board’s executive secretary, Ma Nien-ho (馬念和), said that battery acid waste used to be mixed and neutralized with wastewater from washing plastic debris, and then discharged into industrial wastewater treatment plants, the neutralization process created more chemically precipitated sludge and the acid went to waste.
After evaluating more environmentally friendly ways to treat battery waste, research institutes suggested adding diffusion dialysis equipment to the treatment process before neutralizing the waste.
By using an anion exchange membrane, more than 80 percent of heavy metal substances can be removed from the waste, the EPA said, adding that this method can also help recycle about 80 percent of the sulfuric acid, as well as reduce the chemically precipitated sludge by 50 percent.
Using a medium-sized treatment plant as an example, Ma said, about 300 tonnes of battery waste treated each month would create about 70 tonnes of acid waste water, and about NT$114,000 can be saved from reduced purchase of chemical substances for water neutralization and precipitated sludge treatment, if the new treatment equipment is installed — which would be beneficial both financially and environmentally.
The EPA also reminded people to be careful when disposing of lead-acid batteries.
They should hand them in at recycling facilities and also pay attention not to let the erosive acid liquid spill out, it said.