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Fruit peels help recover metals from e-waste

By Gerald Ondrey |

Scientists from Nanyang Technological University (NTU; Singapore; www.ntu.edu.sg), led by professor Madhavi Srinivasan, have developed a method of using orange peel waste to extract precious metals from spent lithium-ion batteries and to make batteries from those recovered metals, creating minimal waste in the process. “Currently, industrial e-waste recycling processes are energy-intensive and emit harmful pollutants and liquid waste, pointing to a need for eco-friendly methods as the amount of e-waste grows,” says Srinivasan. “Our team has demonstrated that this is possible with biodegradable substances.” A method that has been increasingly explored involves hydrometallurgy, using water as a solvent for extraction. In this process spent batteries are shredded and crushed to form a material called “black mass.” Metals are then extracted from the black mass by dissolving it in a mix of acids and other chemicals, such as hydrogen peroxide under heat. However, using such strong chemicals on an industrial scale would generate a large amount of pollutants. The NTU team found that the combination of orange peel that has been oven-dried and ground into powder, and citric acid, can achieve the same goal. The team found that…
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