Car and truck batteries die but it doesn’t mean the end of the road for them. At Gulf Coast Scrap Metal here in Houston, we routinely accept batteries, paying top dollar to recycle them. This not only means money in your pocket, it gives individual batteries a longer indirect life and helps to keep them from ending up in landfills such as the city’s Greenhouse Road Landfill.
Recycling batteries: how is it done?
Once your batteries are purchased by Gulf Coast Scrap Metal, they enter into a process where hundreds of dead batteries are placed onto a conveyor belt that feeds them into a large processor filled with thirty or more rotating hammers that literally crush or smash the old batteries into bits before a screen filters out the lead acid paste.
The broken bits of plastic and lead fall into a vat of water where the lead and other metals sink to the bottom while the plastic floats to the surface. This low tech sorting process is itself environmentally friendly and highly effective. The cleaned plastic is then blown into a separate receptacle for future transportation to another processing facility where they will be pelletized and turned into usable plastic for new batteries.
The lead and any other metals such as trace amounts of nickel, cobalt and lithium are then moved via a worm screw and conveyor belt to another machine. The lead acid becomes a paste and is neutralized by first turning it into a liquid that is then dried to form the paste that is combined with the lead and other metals. The water used in this process is then placed in a holding tank where remaining metals will settle to the bottom as a sludge which is removed for recycling. The water is then processed to meet federal standards so that it too can be safely disposed of in this case as common waste or gray water.
Powdered coal is then added to the dried sludge and lead to facilitate the processing before it is further dried to remove any lingering moisture. This ultra-dried lead is then fed into a furnace for about ten hours. Other metals rise to the top of this molten metal where they are manually skimmed off leaving pure lead that is pumped into forms producing ingots for easy handling and transportation. Any missed impurities are skimmed off as the ingots, which contain enough pure lead to make three car or truck batteries, then cool and harden before being used in industry.
We’re occasionally asked how recycling car batteries in Houston is done and while the process is involved, requiring expensive equipment and facilities, it is fairly straightforward and beneficial. If you have batteries to recycle or other metals such as copper, iron, brass or carbide, you’ll see a list of acceptable scrap metals here. For a list of metals we cannot accept, click here.