Lithium-ion batteries have become part of our daily lives. They have proven useful for powering many of the electronics that we rely on, from cellphones and power tools to a growing number of electric vehicles. Their chemistry and construction, however, are not compatible with the process used to recycle lead-acid batteries. As a result, the Battery Council International (BCI) has growing concerns that more Lithium-ion batteries may be introduced into the lead-acid recycling ecosystem. The results of such contamination can result in explosion and fire that can cause injury to recycling center personnel and equipment. Lithium-ion batteries must be taken to a proper recycling location to be disposed of these facilities are not the same as lead battery recycling centers. Visit the BCI website to find out where to recycle lithium-ion batteries near you.
Properly Identifying Lead-Acid and Lithium-ion Batteries
Some of the best ways to tell the difference between a lithium-ion battery and a lead battery include:
1) Weight – Lead batteries typically weigh almost double that of a lithium battery of the same size.
2) Labeling – Lead batteries are labeled with the letters PB or have the word Lead Battery somewhere on the battery. Lithium-ion batteries have the letters Li or have the words lithium-ion somewhere on the battery case.
3) Terminal Styles – Most lead batteries have two protruding terminals with a light gray appearance. Lithium batteries may have a number of different styles of terminals.
If you’re still not sure what type of battery you have, you should remove the battery for closer inspection to find a label or other markings that may indicate the chemistry.
The BCI has created a toolkit that can be used by companies, to help employees identify and ensure that lead and lithium batteries are not recycled together. The toolkit includes training videos, as well as a poster and flyer that can aid lead battery sorters and handlers with proper identification.