Economic Feasibility of a Mechanical Separation Process for Recycling Alkaline Batteries

Economic Feasibility of a Mechanical Separation Process for Recycling Alkaline Batteries

Paul Gasper Joshua Hines Jean-Paul Miralda Ricardo Bonhomme Jerome Schaufeld Diran Apelian Yan Wang*

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 100 Institute Road, MA 01609 USA

Department of Management Engineering, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 100 Institute Road, MA 01609 USA

Corresponding Author Email:
10 May 2013
| |
10 June 2013
| | Citation

Spent primary alkaline batteries present an unused source of secondary metals in Europe and the US, with at least 300,000 metric tons of batteries being landfilled each year. While battery recycling programs exist, current hydrometallurgical and pyrometallurgi- cal processes are not profitable when used for dedicated alkaline battery recycling, so industry growth is difficult. A novel mechanical separation process consisting of shredding, baking, magnetic separation, and specific gravity separation was developed to recycle one metric ton per hour of alkaline batteries at lower cost than current methods, while being environmentally beneficial. Financial analysis was conducted using a Process-Based Cost Model to address the challenges of modeling a recycling process. At full capacity, the cost to recycle alkaline batteries via the developed process is $529 per metric ton, +/- 25%, not including transportation, with revenue of $383 per metric ton. This cost is lower than that of other reported processes, but is still not economically feasible. With supplemental revenue of $0.3 per kg, which could come from various sources, the return on investment can occur in just under 3 years. The low value of alkaline bat- tery recovery material is identified as the most significant economic barrier for the recycling.


Alkaline Battery Recycling, Cost Modeling, Economic Feasibility

1. Introduction
2. Experimental
3. Results and Discussion
4. Conclusions

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