Sciencemadness Discussion Board

anyway to recover and purify the zinc from old batteries?

Little_Ghost_again - 26-8-2015 at 08:36

Hi,
I was wondering (seeing as I have a huge amount) if there was any way to recover the zinc from old batteries like AA batteries and such? They are a wide mix of batteries including alkali and many other kinds. I looked at the Nurd Rage video on recovering MNO from old batteries but he mentioned that process couldnt be used on alkali batteries.
Alot of the batteries are corroded so I was thinking maybe some kind of electrolysis method? I wouldnt normally bother but the school collected huge numbers in a recycle bin but the company that supplied it didnt show up again! Sooo I scrounged them :D, probably not worth the effort but has to be over 1000 batteries I am sorting through to see if there is any lithium ones

LG

aga - 26-8-2015 at 14:04

Probably not worth the effort, unless you discover a quick and automated way to recover the components.

1000 is a lot of batteries, but if you work out the Time taken to process them, the results are simply not worth it.

Finding the Li ones would be most fun.

j_sum1 - 26-8-2015 at 14:30

Electrowinning might be your best bet.
Melt your contaminated Zn into a crude ingot. Immerse as an anode into a Zn solution. Run a current and collect purified zinc at the cathode, catching impurities in your electrolyte.
Repeat as needed.

Little_Ghost_again - 26-8-2015 at 14:46

Quote: Originally posted by j_sum1  
Electrowinning might be your best bet.
Melt your contaminated Zn into a crude ingot. Immerse as an anode into a Zn solution. Run a current and collect purified zinc at the cathode, catching impurities in your electrolyte.
Repeat as needed.


Thanks for that, I got a cheap graphite crucible that should do the job!

I have found loads of lithium batteries in the box, I am guessing I could build a box with gloves attached fill with N and take the lithium out if its in any fit state.
I want to clean the MNO as I am wanting to make a large home made battery with potassium hydroxide as electrolyte, no reason for it just kinda interested. MNO seems expensive at the mo

blogfast25 - 26-8-2015 at 15:34

Quote: Originally posted by Little_Ghost_again  

I have found loads of lithium batteries in the box, I am guessing I could build a box with gloves attached fill with N and take the lithium out if its in any fit state.


Spent Li batteries don't contain any Li metal anymore: it's all been oxidised, remember? It's what batteries do! ;)

diddi - 26-8-2015 at 15:44

if it is an academic exercise then go ahead, but to be honest, you can buy 999 bullion of Zn for a few $ a pound, so why bother?

Little_Ghost_again - 26-8-2015 at 16:12

Quote: Originally posted by blogfast25  
Quote: Originally posted by Little_Ghost_again  

I have found loads of lithium batteries in the box, I am guessing I could build a box with gloves attached fill with N and take the lithium out if its in any fit state.


Spent Li batteries don't contain any Li metal anymore: it's all been oxidised, remember? It's what batteries do! ;)


Not all are spent, a fair few are showing above 1V.

Its a bit of everything exercise really.

Justin Blaise - 26-8-2015 at 20:45

Quote: Originally posted by Little_Ghost_again  


I have found loads of lithium batteries in the box, I am guessing I could build a box with gloves attached fill with N and take the lithium out if its in any fit state.


Another problem is that Li reacts with N2 at room temperature. You'd need Ar ($$) for that job.

Edit: Glove bags aren't so expensive, though.

http://www.sigmaaldrich.com/labware/labware-products.html?Ta...

Alternatively, you could make one as per the attachment.



[Edited on 27-8-2015 by Justin Blaise]

Attachment: ed072p96.pdf (944kB)
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[Edited on 27-8-2015 by Justin Blaise]

Little_Ghost_again - 26-8-2015 at 23:39

Quote: Originally posted by Justin Blaise  
Quote: Originally posted by Little_Ghost_again  


I have found loads of lithium batteries in the box, I am guessing I could build a box with gloves attached fill with N and take the lithium out if its in any fit state.


Another problem is that Li reacts with N2 at room temperature. You'd need Ar ($$) for that job.

Edit: Glove bags aren't so expensive, though.

http://www.sigmaaldrich.com/labware/labware-products.html?Ta...

Alternatively, you could make one as per the attachment.



[Edited on 27-8-2015 by Justin Blaise]



[Edited on 27-8-2015 by Justin Blaise]


We have a MIG welder and I think thats got Argon :D, I will check later

Recovering Zinc from Zinc Carbon Batteries

Keith Fletcher - 27-8-2015 at 07:53

Disassemble the battery remove the carbon electrode and then dissolve the zinc in Nitric acid or some other Mineral acid to make zinc nitrate. Then decompose the zinc nitrate to get pure zinc metal.

Zincbattery_(1).png - 92kB

gdflp - 27-8-2015 at 10:47

Quote: Originally posted by Keith Fletcher  
Disassemble the battery remove the carbon electrode and then dissolve the zinc in Nitric acid or some other Mineral acid to make zinc nitrate. Then decompose the zinc nitrate to get pure zinc metal.

That's nowhere close to as simple as you make it seem. Zinc nitrate will decompose to zinc oxide and nitrogen oxides at moderate temperatures, but reclaiming the zinc from the oxide the way you propose would be quite difficult. Zinc oxide decomposes at nearly 2000°C, at which point the zinc would be gaseous. Condensing this without reoxidation would be nearly impossible on an amateur scale, and most certainly not worth the effort for relatively small amounts of zinc. Substituting the direct decomposition of zinc oxide with a carbothermal reduction would lower the necessary temperature to around 1000°C, but you still have the issue of condensing the zinc under an inert atmosphere to prevent reoxidation. Electrolysis of zinc sulfate may be plausible, and would certainly be easier than a high temperature reduction, see older relevant threads on SciMad.

Keith Fletcher - 27-8-2015 at 14:07

2 ZnO + C --> Zn + CO2

https://books.google.com/books?id=tR9DAAAAIAAJ&lpg=PA38&...

diddi - 27-8-2015 at 14:17

re MIG gas: it often contains CO2. there is a pure Ar gas which is used for TIG welding, but you can use pure Ar in MIG, but it is dearer, so make sure you check carefully on the label.

Little_Ghost_again - 27-8-2015 at 14:29

Quote: Originally posted by diddi  
re MIG gas: it often contains CO2. there is a pure Ar gas which is used for TIG welding, but you can use pure Ar in MIG, but it is dearer, so make sure you check carefully on the label.


its my dads welder so I wont need to check, my dad being my dad is gonna go cheap, so I am betting its not pure :D....................


ran outside to check, just in case I was wrong about my dad being a tight arse.

Nope I was correct, it is not pure

macckone - 27-8-2015 at 17:45

Lithium batteries are generally disassembled under
oil to recover the lithium. Where Little Ghost lives
it is probably legal. However in the 'Land of the Free',
it is illegal in some places.

As for the recovery of zinc from the oxide, this is
one of the earliest ore recoveries. The carbothermic
reaction occurs at modest temperatures but vaporized
zinc is a hazard although usually not fatal.

Little_Ghost_again - 27-8-2015 at 18:22

Quote: Originally posted by macckone  
Lithium batteries are generally disassembled under
oil to recover the lithium. Where Little Ghost lives
it is probably legal. However in the 'Land of the Free',
it is illegal in some places.

As for the recovery of zinc from the oxide, this is
one of the earliest ore recoveries. The carbothermic
reaction occurs at modest temperatures but vaporized
zinc is a hazard although usually not fatal.


Thanks.
Any yep where I live most things are legal due to the seclusion :P.
In the uk you allowed to do most things except make ethanol (tax issue). Nitric acid (in case you hurt yourself). Hydrogen peroxide over 12% (in case you over bleach your hair).
Oh and breathing is to be heavily taxed. But no where can I find anything that says I cant take the lithium out of a battery, I cant go on a plane with a lithium battery but I am allowed to take it apart!
I cant buy Ammonium Nitrate in small quantity because of possible bomb making, but I am allowed to buy it by the ton for spreading on the fields here!

Mad times in Europe and UK


LG

Fluorite - 26-1-2021 at 12:33

Sorry for being stupid but. Can I use battery zinc to make dimethyl zinc? If it claims 0% cadmium & mercury is it safe?

unionised - 26-1-2021 at 13:13

"Can I use battery zinc to make dimethyl zinc?"
Yes

"is it safe?"
Not really. It catches fire on exposure to air.

zed - 12-2-2021 at 07:37

Though on your Lithium Battery question, refer to NurdRage's Sodium preparations on Youtube.

A little salvaged Lithium is very useful for priming his Sodium producing procedure.

There are also Youtube videos on recovering Zinc from batteries.

Though there are other things in common batteries, that the guys find much more useful. Like Manganese Dioxide, and Carbon Electrodes. Are you OK with spoken English?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=knc1lSupAwQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XC5q9mDKUCo

Also, here in the U.S., our pennies are mostly made of Copper plated Zinc, so we don't really have a shortage.

It might be possible to generate Lithium via a Magnesium Thermite reaction. Seems to work for Sodium and Potassium.

As for Dimethyl Zinc, besides being highly flammable, I'm sure it is plenty poisonous. Kind of archaic really. Maybe used in Ketone synthesis, a hundred years ago? I used to read about such things, in ancient volumes of the Journal of the American Chemical Society. That, was back when I was a young Neanderthal, and we rode around on Mastodons. There are better ways of doing things now.

Though on inspecting Wiki, I find that Organo-Zinc compounds are used in plenty of applications, that most of us here don't usually think about.

Also of note: When I was a boy, we used to re-charge ordinary "Carbon" batteries. They lose their re-chargability after several cycles, but they were re-chargable.

At present, there is a device, that is purported to safely recharge alkaline batteries. I don't know what resources are like in Tunesia, but much of the world is currently feeling. "The Pinch".

I find this crusty old "Brit" entertaining. With his hand cranked, home-made Cell Phone re-charger.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rozz-wbHfYM

About minute 18 or 19.

[Edited on 13-2-2021 by zed]

[Edited on 13-2-2021 by zed]

DraconicAcid - 12-2-2021 at 16:50

Quote: Originally posted by Fluorite  
Sorry for being stupid but. Can I use battery zinc to make dimethyl zinc? If it claims 0% cadmium & mercury is it safe?


All organometallic compounds are toxic (with the sole exception of one of the B vitamins). You do not want to mess around with the vast majority of them.