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[*] posted on 3-7-2018 at 19:37

At a place I work there is a trash room full of old equipment and garbage that piles up. I scouted it out today and took inventory of what I thought was interesting.

Hundreds of old florescent/cfl bulbs of all sizes and shapes
dozens of kilograms of old AA, AAA, and 9V dead batteries (not Li)
dozens of old rechargeable lead acid 12 V batteries
A few dozen broken old computers and power supplies
Lots of broken laptop batteries

Does anyone think any of this stuff is worth taking home?
Do you think its worth trying to extract anything from a few hundred broken florescent bulbs?
Anything worthwhile in those old regular laptop and AA batteries?

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[*] posted on 3-7-2018 at 20:20

Any lithium-ion batteries in there (EDIT: some computer batteries are lithium-ion, not the AA/AAA ones)?

You can try extracting the lithium metal if there is any left.

[Edited on 7-4-2018 by ninhydric1]

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[*] posted on 3-7-2018 at 21:57

When I see this list I think there is a reason it is there, I would leave it where it is. The bubbles probably don't work any more and even if they worked? What would you do with them?

You could recover the lead, but it will be nasty
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[*] posted on 3-7-2018 at 22:23

You could get manganese oxides and carbon electrodes from the alkaline batteries, not to mention zinc.

I think some old fluorescent bulbs have a small amount of mercury... probably a toxic waste of time to mess with on a small scale, but I can't say for sure....

You could get lead from the lead-acid batteries. You could even get sulfuric acid from them if you have a lot of time on your hands and are really desperate for sulfuric acid.

There are probably some good cells among the laptop batteries. You might even be able to get some lithium out of them.

I would probably just try to take most of it to an environmental company and see if they'll give you any money, perhaps dissecting some of the alkaline batteries since I don't have any carbon electrodes.

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[*] posted on 4-7-2018 at 00:28

Doesn't sound really interesting. Recovering lead from these old batteries is a dirty and nasty thing. You can buy very pure lead metal on eBay for just a few bucks in decent quantities, so I see no reason to mess with toxic dirty waste material.

Even lithium is available at high purity at reasonable price (appr. $15 per 25 grams on eBay, I have good experience with that). Leave the dissection of these batteries to the professional recyclers.

The only interesting thing may be getting big graphite rods from zinc-batteries, but only if these are big ones. AAA-cell or AA-cell batteries are too small and not really interesting. The big 6V lantern batteries (containing 4 huge 1.5 cells) are very good for this purpose, but you don't mention these.

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[*] posted on 4-7-2018 at 00:41

Well, if anything there represents a project that you want to take on, then you might ask if you can take it off their hands.

I would certainly ask rather than stealing it. Probably no one will care but asking puts you in a good light. There is also the possibility that someone will respond with, "Sure. Do you want 'x' as well?" And x could be something pretty good.

Be careful that someone else's junk does not become your junk. There is no point in collecting 1000 dead AA batteries if they are just going to sit around consuming space.
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[*] posted on 4-7-2018 at 00:46

I have taken apart many laptop battery packs,
the most common fault is the electronics inside the pack,
commonly ALL of the cells are re-usable, sometimes one or two failed.
So I'd go for the laptop batteries and recover some lithium cells.
A battery holder for 1,2,3 or 4 18650 Li cells is cheap via eBay,
I have two 'packs'/batteries of four ex-laptop cells each that I've been using for years. (14.4 Vdc nominal, 12 Vdc minimum)
I usually charge each cell individually.

Here in England used lead-acid batteries have a scrap value:
£5 for a 12 V 4 AH sealed unit, £10 for a 40 A.h car battery.
So if you check first, a quantity of lead acid batteries may be worth transporting to a buyer ?

I doubt that there is much value in used primary cells.
The risk is too high to bother with tiny mercury sources in lamps.
The cpu power supplies are probably scrap, if so then
they are difficult to repair and contain little of value.
It MAY be worth trying to make a working PC from many broken ones ?
(e.g. a 'disposable' PC to use in the lab.)
But typically a lot of time and frustration is involved,
and you will create your own pile of trash to dispose of :P

P.S. for some time now, if you bought a cheap item from China that contains a lithium rechargeable battery,
there is a good chance that it contains an ex-laptop cell :P
Now that China has stopped receiving our trash that may change.

[Edited on 4-7-2018 by Sulaiman]
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[*] posted on 4-7-2018 at 12:34

you could make a diy car battery charger from one of the laptop power supplies. made one, works good. also used another one to power my pump for my vacuum aspirator setup (well just the male plug and the cord to a chinese ac/dc converter.)
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[*] posted on 4-7-2018 at 13:04

Use the power supplies for electrochemistry

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[*] posted on 4-7-2018 at 17:12

Yeah, I don't care for trying to get the H2SO4 out of the batteries. I can just buy it from the hardware store. I read on the forum that the cfl bulbs phosphor is mostly yttrium oxide (50%). Considering that there is about a gram per bulb and that there are hundreds of them that might be a worth while project. The Hg is really not an issue as I can break the bulbs outside, wash off the phosphor into a bucket, filter everything, then extract treat the glass and metal oxides with acid to get a yttrium/rare earth salt solution.

There are a few broken machines there that I might try and fix up. They scrap all of the hard drives, ram, and CPUs before throwing them out. I might consider taking the cases, mother boards, and power supplies out for scrap.

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