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‘Breakthrough’ in nickel recovery from batteries

Poland – A research team in Poland has found that nickel recovered from post-consumer batteries can be used to create new electrodes for hydrogen storage, fuel cells and new batteries, The Chemical Engineer has reported. The discovery is being hailed as a breakthrough as this is the first time recovered nickel has been thus applied.

The researchers were driven by the fact that at least 50% of used batteries in the EU must be recycled by 2016. Overseen by Professor Ma?gorzata Osi?ska at the Pozna? University of Technology, the chemical leaching process yields nickel sulphate, which was exposed to an electrolyte.

A fabric made from carbon fibre was immersed in the electrolytic bath as an electrode and a current passed through the system for five hours. A solution of palladium chloride was introduced to increase the electrochemical activity of the electrode.

′Nickel recovered from spent Ni-Cd batteries could be applied for the preparation of both cathode materials for nickel-cadmium and nickel-metal hydride batteries,′ Osi?ska states. It will also benefit anode materials for Ni-MH batteries and direct methanol fuel cells.

In all cases, the electrodes performed well and were ′extremely stable′, she adds. The combination of low metal content in the electrodes with their high activity may contribute to lower environmental pollution, Osi?ska asserts.

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