As ecogeeks, we tend to have a number of gadgets around, many of them powered by batteries. When we throw them away, they either go to landfill, where their toxic chemicals pollute the soil and water, or we recycle them, reusing their components.
That’s what 3 Brazilian students are doing, but in a very unique way. Camila da Silva Bruzadelli, Alan Juliano de Andrade and Deborah Asbahr, of Limeira, Brazil, have discovered a way to make pigmentation that can be used in ceramics coloring, from batteries. In their state of Sao Paolo, 192 million batteries are used each year, with only a fraction of them being recycled. But what batteries they do receive, they disassemble into their constituent components, being cardboard, plastic, steel and graphite, each of which can be recycled using the existing infrastructure.
The zinc, manganese, and iron, can be combined with the electrolyte, which is treated with nitric acid, filtered, neutralized, and then heated at 1000C for 4 hours to obtain the various metallic oxides. These are then applied to ceramics, which are also baked and glazed. The oxides provide several colors; from a light rose to a dark brown. They plan on approaching the ceramics industry with this technology and hopefully end up reducing both the amount of artificial pigmentation created or mined from minerals, and the amount of batteries that do not make it to the recycling depots.
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