Lithium Australia NL’s (ASX:LIT) recycling division Envirostream Australia is targeting new markets for its battery products, with the low-value spent alkaline batteries potentially providing micro nutrients for commercial crops.
Initial pot trials undertaken in controlled greenhouse conditions indicated that the Envirostream product has potential as a source of micronutrients in fertilisers.
Envirostream director and Lithium Australia managing director Adrian Griffin said it also provided an opportunity to reduce the carbon footprint of the battery industry as well as landfill contamination while improving global food production.
He said: “Globally, the disposal of alkaline batteries has become a major problem.
“Our plan for repurposing the active components of the spent cells is not only a significant step towards worldwide environmental management of the issue but could also have a powerful influence on the sustainability of disposable batteries.
“As such, it is an integral part of Lithium Australia’s quest to develop a circular economy for all battery types – which is certainly something society requires.”
The field trial site is located near the WA rural town of Kojonup.
Field trials planned
A site suitable for field trials has been located in the wheatbelt of Western Australia, a region that produces about 14 million tonnes of grain annually and is a major contributor to Australia’s export economy.
Soils in the area selected have a low pH and are deficient in zinc, manganese and phosphate, which is considered ideal for the application of fertilisers containing the manganese and zinc compounds recovered by Envirostream from spent alkaline batteries.
Blending of the manganese/zinc supplement with major-element fertilisers has begun, in preparation for wheat seeding in the next two weeks.
Envirostream plans to conduct additional field trials in jurisdictions outside Australia and will seek partners willing to explore and possibly enhance the efficacy of this proposed solution to alkaline battery management.