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Old December 31, 2012, 07:50 PM   #1
leadchucker
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Batteries other than automotive types?

After reading the numerous warnings about not trying to extract the lead from modern automotive maintenance free batteries, I definitely do not intend to try it.

What would you think about this? I can get my hands on an old set of deep cycle liquid acid batteries that were used as backup power for a microwave system. Purely old school lead acid technology, none of the nasty chemicals in the maintenance free automotive batteries. I would guess that the total weight of these things is well over five hundred pounds. Any safer than the auto batteries?
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Old December 31, 2012, 08:34 PM   #2
darkroommike
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lead batteries

I don't think it's worth it. My local battery recycler will trade me lead wheel weights for lead batteries so I don't fuss with batteries. I have not taken a battery apart in forever, I used some old hard rubber battery cases for a project some time ago. Lead battery plates are not just lead but also lead compounds in the grid of the plates. Without knowing what the battery plate "waffles" are filled with I would pass. I think the plates might be tough to get dry enough to smelt, too.
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Old December 31, 2012, 08:54 PM   #3
m&p45acp10+1
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The acid in those batteries has impregnated itself into the lead. Not only that the melting of it releases the acid into the air. It is like Russian roulette, there is a high chance it will release sulfur dioxide, coupled with the acid. When it hits anything with water it turns back to the acid state. kiss your eyes good bye, if you breathe it, it will be among the last breaths you take it will eat your lungs up. The chemicals released are the same as the pour and run method of making meth. Many have lost their lives, or eyes that way.

It is not worth it. Take the batteries to a recycle center. As big, and heavy as they are you should get a good amount for them. Use the money to buy some wheel weights.
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Old January 1, 2013, 05:53 PM   #4
FrankenMauser
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Same risks.

I wouldn't try it.
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Old January 2, 2013, 09:03 AM   #5
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Just TOO MANY things to go wrong !!

NO!!
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Old January 2, 2013, 10:08 AM   #6
anothernewb
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It's a bummer. The lead in a car battery and other maintenance free types isn't lead plates as we think of them. It's more of a spongy lead oxide material. Not to get too technical, but trying to smelt the lead back into usable form is kinda a PITA and releases small levels of what amounts to mustard gas.

The process CAN be done at home by someone with good tools and a working knowledge of chemistry - I'm no expert and haven't tried it myself, but from what I know I think it would be a rather large investment for a rather small return in product. Probably better to hack off the terminals and call it good.

I've thought about that one before - going into a junkyard and seeing if I can go to the battery container and take the lead terminals off the batteries they have that are headed for the recycler.
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Old January 2, 2013, 10:12 AM   #7
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One other source for lead that one may want to consider is lead pipes from old construction. good stuff and lots to be found. depending on your local laws you might find those who are more than willing to give them to you. In my area if a structure is to be torn down, the lead and asbestos has to be removed first. You may be able to talk to a contractor and they may let you (unofficially) salvage it before they do the actual inspection and demo. Saves you effort, and saves them money on inspection and disposal
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Old January 2, 2013, 01:35 PM   #8
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Anothernewb, FWIW it is not worth it to salvage batteries regardless of tools available or how much chemistry you know. When the "lead" is heated, two gases are given off, Arsine and Stibine, both of which are fatal in extremely small quantities. Sell the damn things and buy known good lead. GW
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Old January 27, 2013, 09:41 PM   #9
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I saw a show (either 'How it's made' or 'How do they do it') about batteries. They showed that many batteries use a thin lead mesh that is covered in a paste of other materials. I don't recall what they were, but I don't think they were lead. Cadmium?

But then again, on that same show they had a warehouse full of batteries and a loader driving around in an indoor lake of battery acid scooping them into piles for grinding, some of them were sparking. They ground them up, separated the plastic out then smelted it into clean lead ingots (big ingots). So, evidently on an industrial scale it is do-able.

Prior to this, about a year ago, I tore apart a lead acid battery from a computer power supply. It contained crumbling nasty junk and was a waste of time.

People tried to tell me, and now I know.
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Old January 28, 2013, 01:22 AM   #10
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Junker, you're probably thinking of the "How Stuff Works" episode on lead.
This is a condensed version of the battery recycling segment, from the larger episode: Battery Recycling

That particular clip doesn't show it as clearly as the entire segment does, but there are a few not-so-obvious safety measures in the operation:
1. As soon as batteries arrive on-site, they go into the "lake" to remain wet. The acid lake and water spray help minimize any airborne particles.
2. Everyone on-site is supposed to be wearing a chemical respirator (not just a particle mask).
3. During the grinding process, everything still remains wet.
4. During the smelting process, access to the blast furnace area is tightly controlled, and personnel in the area must have an appropriate chemical respirator and suit.
5. Areas around the furnace and casting line have massive amounts of air flow.
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Old January 28, 2013, 04:21 PM   #11
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I talked with a friend's dad yesterday. He worked at a plant that recycled batteries till it shut down about three years ago. He confirmed to me that most of the plates in the batteries have zinc, and copper in them. As well as several other alloys. The real problem in melting them down is the sulfuric acid that turns to a gas. When it contacts any moisture it goes back into its acid state. That means lungs, and eyes for humans. If it contacts the eyes they will be gone in minutes. If it hits the lungs the person would most likely be dead in a short time.

'They are just not worth the risk involved. Not only that the acid is still in the metal. The ingots that they get from melting the alloy down is used to make more batteries. It is not good for anything else. If used to make bullets it would be highly corrisive in the barrel of a gun. Like pitted with rust in a few minutes based on what sulfuric acid does to steel.
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Old January 28, 2013, 04:47 PM   #12
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I had a dozen and a half old car and tractor batteries that were all split/cracked and the lead was exposed. Turned three into a couple dozen ocean weights, and the others went to the scrap yard. Next time i'll know to ask re-loaders if they are interested in them. Oh yeah, I didn't die doing it either. I let them melt for a long time before going near them though.
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Old January 29, 2013, 09:48 AM   #13
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I tried the battery route............it isn't worth it, setting the hazards aside, the time it took me to get the lead out of the battery and to the point I could cast with it, I figured I would be money a head, mowing the neighbors lawn or shoveling his driveway.

Or a half day of over time. With the money I spent replacing my destroyed jeans and other clothing I could have bought a lot of lead.

I also found that with all my reloading I end up with a lot of brass that's just plain wore out. I could sell that brass to a scrap yard for more then enough to buy lead.

Thankfully I don't have to fool with that any more, I get all the lead I could ever use by cleaning the bullet traps in our clubs indoor range.
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