Journal: Environmental Science and Technology
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Orange is the new green
© Rosemary Calvert/Getty
Orange-peel waste can be used to recover valuable metals from lithium-ion batteries at the end of their life, ready for reuse in new batteries.
Lithium-ion batteries are used to power just about every electronic device these days, but currently fewer than 5% of these batteries are recycled. Disposing of lithium-ion batteries in landfill not only poses environmental concerns, but also results in a significant loss of valuable lithium and other metals.
Fruit waste such as orange peel — which is also currently disposed of unsustainably — is rich in compounds such as catechins, phenolic acids and flavonoids.
Now, research led by scientists at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, has shown that these compounds can act as green reductants in metal extraction from lithium-ion batteries, and could replace industrial hydrogen peroxide reduction.
The fruit-waste-based process was just as effective at recovering metal from spent batteries as the current industrial process, but more sustainable, minimizing the environmental impact of two waste streams.
- Environmental Science and Technology 54, 9681–9692 (2020). doi: 10.1021/acs.est.0c02873