A Big Problem in a Small Package

Lithium Ion Batteries 

By: Jason Wilson, IT Specialist, e-End

What if I told you every day you used materials capable of causing large explosions? What if I told you that you carry these materials in your pocket, potentially without even knowing it? Guess what? You do. Lithium Ion Batteries are extremely flammable and if not disposed of correctly, are capable of causing levels of damage that you may not know. But what contains these batteries and how can they be properly disposed of? 

About Lithium Batteries

Originally, lithium-ion batteries or li-ion batteries were developed for portable electronics and electric vehicles for military and aerospace applications. However through advancing breakthroughs by its creators in the late 70s and early 80s, the technology became more commercialized.

Lithium Ion batteries are all around the average person every day. For example, the device you’re reading this very article on, whether it be a phone, a tablet, a laptop, or a desktop computer all contain lithium Ion batteries. Your phone contains it in the obvious location, as does your laptop, and tablet. But, what people may not know is inside of a desktop computer, on the motherboard itself there is a small button battery, that is actually also a lithium ion battery. These batteries are extremely common and very useful in everyday life. Think about the anxiety you feel if your phone dies, or how bummed you are when you’re mid Netflix and the battery dies on the iPad. The things that keep all of these devices running are lithium ion batteries. 

Cause of the Problems

But, in the immortal words of a very wise man “with great power comes great responsibility.” While these batteries are responsible for running the technology in our everyday lives, they also can be very destructive if not properly disposed of. In the article, “Short circuiting the circular economy” by Rafael Reveles of e-Scrap.com, he refers to the potential destructive power that one laptop battery could contain.

“For example, an average laptop battery can contain 900 kilojoules per kilogram of stored energy, which is the same amount of energy 30,000 firecrackers release when exploding.”

This can happen when terminals collide with two live batteries, or when the battery is broken in the process of shredding. This can also happen if a battery is punctured or just not properly disposed of. There have been a number of incidents where batteries have exploded on freight trucks because of improper disposal methods and irresponsibility by the transporter.

Possible Solution

Here at e-End, we ensure top quality in our battery disposal process by sealing off the terminals (as well as any punctures or other things of that nature) and sending them to a vetted downstream vendor. This ensures that the batteries will be safe during transportation, and will be properly disposed of when they reach their destination. For more information about proper battery disposal, or any other e-scrap related questions, visit www.eendusa.com for answers!