Australian Researchers Are To Turn Old Batteries Into Agricultural Fertilisers

Australian lithium battery maker Australia lithium will soon begin field trials of manganese and zinc supplements from older batteries near cogenup in western Australia’s greater southern region. The supplement comes from recycled alkaline batteries, which are disposable batteries commonly used in handheld devices such as TV remote controls and children’s toys.

The battery council of Australia estimates that 97 percent of the 158 million alkaline batteries used in Australia each year end up in landfills.

And all alkaline batteries are imported.


Adrian griffin, managing director of Australia lithium, says his company is initially recycling lithium batteries.

But after acquiring another company, called green streams Australia, they decided to try to reuse alkaline batteries. Australian environmental stream company recycles all kinds of old batteries.

Used alkaline batteries have little or no value, so there is little incentive to recycle them, Mr. Griffin said. However, they do contain manganese oxide and zinc.

“We’re trying to find a solution for these waste batteries, which is better for the environment and creates better value.” He said.

“We conclude that manganese and zinc are required for micronutrient nutrients in fertilizers.”

Australian environmental stream has developed the technology to crush spent alkaline batteries and use high concentrations of zinc and manganese, as well as trace amounts of graphite and potassium, to make fertilizer supplements.

The company conducted greenhouse experiments last year with a mix of metallic powder from its alkaline batteries, which contained high concentrations of zinc and manganese extracted from older batteries.

The field trial will take place next week on a farm east of cogenup that is short of zinc, manganese and phosphate and has a low pH, and griffin says it is an ideal site for their manganese and zinc fertilizer supplements.