Leading the Way, Getting the Lead Out
Did you know that lead is the fifth most abundant metal in the world, and that nearly 70% of all the lead produced is used to make lead acid batteries? Spent lead acid batteries are categorized as hazardous waste due to their corrosivity, reactivity, and toxicity. Consequently, the lead acid battery industry has built up a strong infrastructure to ensure that as many of these batteries as possible are recovered and recycled. In the U.S. alone, over 90% of lead acid batteries are recycled.
Lead acid batteries are subject to corrosion and sulfation that shorten their useful lives, requiring more batteries to be produced and subsequently recycled.
Firefly International Energy’s patented microcell foam plate technology presents a number of environmental advantages.
First, we replace the heavy, corrosion-prone lead grids, which comprise up to 70% of a typical lead acid battery’s weight, with a non-toxic material. Therefore, there’s less lead to recycle at the end of life.
Secondly, this lightweight foam is porous, and it provides more surface area for the energy-generating chemistry to occur. This means that less lead chemistry is needed than in a lead acid battery, leading to less lead recycled at end of life.
Thirdly, because the positive lead metal grids corrode and the negative metal grids sulfate, life is shortened in a typical lead acid battery. The Firefly foam is much more resilient against these two common failure modes. Longer life means a lower volume of batteries recycled.
Finally, the technology developed by Firefly International Energy reduces both human exposure risk and hazardous waste generation. Batteries containing Firefly’s technology can be recycled through the existing lead acid recycling infrastructure. Other “advanced technology” battery alternatives, such as nickel metal hydride and lithium ion, do not have any recycling infrastructure. In fact, the battery’s owner must actually pay the recycler to take the battery! Carbon is already used to increase the temperature for the smelting of lead. Firefly’s carbon-graphite foam plate material is simply burned away – and actually is a net fuel for increasing smelting temperatures - and the remaining lead in the battery is recycled.
Everyone wants a cleaner environment for present and future generations. There is no better way for the battery industry and its customers to accomplish this than through the green technology developed by Firefly International Energy.