Recyclable Phone Batteries Are Now A Reality.

Recyclable Phone Batteries Are Now A Reality. Source: Unsplash
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Recyclable Phone Batteries Are Now A Reality. Source: Unsplash

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Thanks to research at RMIT School of Engineering in Australia, recyclable phone batteries are now a reality.

A new project created by Australia’s RMIT School of Engineering has proved that recyclable phone batteries are possible and extend the lifetime of phones by nearly a decade. 

Waste is Becoming an Increasingly Important Issue

The disposal of trash and waste is unsurprisingly a mess worldwide. Many problems exist within the structure of trash disposal, with recycling being often neglected in many areas, inconsistent and underdeveloped trash removal infrastructure, and the lack of any trash disposal facilities. 

This means it’s relatively common worldwide to see actual rivers of trash. 

A component of this issue that is growing daily is the increasing problem of electronic waste, otherwise known as e-waste. E-waste is the garbage created after electronic devices are thrown away after being used. 

E-waste makes up anything electronic that goes into the landfill, and the reason this is so problematic because these devices often contain hazardous and toxic chemicals that eventually make their way into our land, water, and atmosphere. 

Of the e-waste that is created, 10% of it is made up of cell phone batteries. This specific component of cell phones is increasingly a problem. Beyond the issues I described above, cell phones and other electronics are burned, releasing these dangerous chemicals and creating new ones. 

However, many of these issues could be circumvented just by making easily recyclable phone batteries. This is how it could work. 

Why Hasn’t This Been Done Already?

One of the major obstacles preventing cellphone batteries from being recycled commonly is that lithium-ion batteries are quite challenging to recycle or reuse. 

However, there are many other ways to create cellphone batteries, and one of these ways could present itself as the way forward to create sustainable personal cellular devices. 

The RMIT School of Engineering in Australia developed this new recyclable phone battery. The design primarily uses a material called Mxene, a material similar to graphene commonly used in electronics like traditional, not-so-recyclable phone batteries. The primary reason why Mxene isn’t already found in most cell phones is that it rusts easily, which hampers conductivity. 

Compared to graphene or lithium-ion batteries, Mxene rusts much quicker, but this property ironically could be the very thing that extends the device’s life. Using sound waves to “brush” off the rust, the researchers estimate that they can extend a conventional phone battery’s life span by three times and create truly recyclable phone batteries. 

Hossein Alijani, a Ph.D. student at the university and co-lead researcher of the project, said, “Current methods used to reduce oxidation rely on the chemical coating of the material, which limits the use of the MXene in its native form, in this work, we show that exposing an oxidized MXene film to high-frequency vibrations for just a minute removes the rust on the film. This simple procedure allows its electrical and electrochemical performance to be recovered.” 

See also: Advances in Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Processes.

The Future is in Recycling

Reducing waste, period. It is one of the most critical issues facing us. However, in the meantime recycling the waste we are creating is the best solution to the massive amounts of garbage contaminating our planet. 

As we continue to move into a world in which electronics play an increasingly important role in our daily lives, we must abandon the disposable electronic-use model. Creating easily removable and recyclable phone batteries is a challenge that is necessary for us to overcome. 

With developments in technology like this becoming more common, we will soon see a world without contradiction between electronics and environmental sensitivity. As part of this movement, MXene recyclable phone batteries appear to be the latest and most promising solution to this problem that we have created. 

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