As part of its strategy to build a circular battery economy, Lithium Australia (ASX: LIT) is evaluating using recycled alkaline battery components in fertilisers.
With alkaline batteries containing zinc and manganese, Lithium Australia has assessed the potential of recovering these minerals for use as micro-nutrient supplements in fertilisers.
As part of this, the company’s consulting agronomist recently completed glasshouse pot trials using wheat.
All up, nine tests were carried out on a quadruplicate basis to assess the material as a fertiliser against control samples that included no micronutrients, zinc as fertiliser grade ZnSO4, manganese as fertiliser grade MnSO4 and a combination of zinc and manganese as sulphates.
According to Lithium Australia, the trial revealed plant dry matter yields were comparable across all samples.
During the trial, uptake of zinc and manganese material from the recycled batteries was observed.
However, the company noted it was slower in comparison to the fertiliser grade sulphate products, which was anticipated.
Despite the slower uptake rates, Lithium Australia stated the results were “encouraging enough” for it to commit to the next assessment stage.
This will likely comprise blended fertiliser agglomeration testing with an ammonium phosphate based fertiliser as a monoammonium phosphate or diammonium phosphate.
The blended samples will then be used in larger-scale field trials to assess the yield of the material compared to commercially available fertilisers.
“Sustainable and ethical supply of critical materials is a global challenge,” Lithium Australia managing director Adrian Griffin said.
“Recycling all the metals within spent batteries is something that’s rarely done effectively, which is why it remains a target for the company.”
“We have not limited ourselves to recycling only lithium-ion batteries, but, rather, have included alkaline batteries in a bid to eliminate all such items from landfill.”
Mr Griffin added the company encouraged consumers to join it in recycling spent batteries for the sake of the environment now and in the future.
Recycling alkaline batteries
Lithium Australia estimates about 6,000 tonnes of alkaline batteries are sold in Australia each year.
The Battery Stewardship Council believes about 97% of those batteries were disposed in municipal waste streams and ended up in landfill.
Lithium Australia’s subsidiary Envirostream Australia collects spent alkaline batteries from numerous locations including Bunnings, Officeworks and Cleanaway.
Envirostream then sorts the batteries and shreds them at its plant to generate separated cathode and anode active compounds which contain high levels of zinc and manganese along with minor quantities of graphite and potassium.
In addition to the battery recycling news, Lithium Australia held a partially underwritten share auction this morning for interested investors.
The company auctioned almost 135.7 million partly paid LITCE shares.
Once purchased, the shares will be credited as paid to $0.0101 each and unpaid $0.0499 per share.
BW Equities has underwritten 50 million partly paid shares at $0.005 for a total value of $250,000.