Recycling and using the same raw material again and again for the same purposes brings cost savings and reduces environmental impact. Cobalt, a dominant material in Lithium-Ion (Li-ion) batteries, is well suited for closed re-circulation. Nokia’s Technology Platforms has studied the use of cobalt of Li-ion batteries for closed loops.
"Li-ion batteries are collected or recycled not because of their hazardous nature but because of the precious metal content," says Senior Research Engineer Pia Tanskanen of Nokia Research Center.
"A battery contains about 32 per cent cobalt compounds by weight. And as cobalt is a rare, precious metal and there are only few suppliers of it in the world, it makes sense to close the loop and use the metal over and over again."
The critical factor for cobalt reuse is to get the used batteries returned for recycling. Customers do not appear interested in battery technologies as such, but rather look for easy take-back options. For producers two separate flows of handsets and batteries and manual sorting of different batteries increase cost.
"The environmental risk of end-of-life batteries is related to improper incineration or leaching from the landfill," says Tanskanen. "Getting batteries recycled by responsible recyclers helps to protect the environment."