Who knew this classic childhood memory could one day be useful in your adult life?
From a study done by researchers at The University of California, it is believed Silly Putty is more than just a childhood toy, used to mold and shape anything your imagination could contrive. It can also be used to triple the battery life of a new favorite toy, your smartphone.
Lithium ion batteries based on this Silly Putty material are said to last three times as long as the industry standard smartphone battery. The use of the Silly Putty substance, silicon dioxide, was initially attractive to the research team because it’s abundant, non-toxic and, better yet, environmentally friendly.
How long do mobile device batteries last?
One of the most popular smartphone OEMs, Apple, reports an iPhone battery of having a lifespan at around 400 complete charges. This all depends on amount of use, of course.
Without a decent battery charge, smartphones typically don’t last that long. This is when consumers usually start tossing old phones into junk drawers or even the trash to pick up a new one.
However, researchers not only found that the silicon nanotubes in Silly Putty were extremely stable for use in lithium ion batteries, but that they can be cycled 100 times without losing their maximum capacity.
Nonetheless, batteries still die, leaving electronics recyclers the responsibility of proper disposal.
Battery recycling is one of the most successful and often harmful businesses in the world if done irresponsibly. While rechargeable batteries, most commonly in cell phones, tablets and laptops, are environmentally more sound than their predecessors, they are still of greater concern nowadays because they contain heavy metals detrimental to the environment.
R2-certified recyclers realize the after affects of battery lead being absorbed into drinking water, lead poisoning. It doesn’t stop there. Incinerating the heavy metals contained in batteries will release dangerous toxins into the air when burned.
If ITAD providers can’t simply throw them out, burn them or send them away, what can they do to responsibly recycle batteries?
Compliance with government regulations is essential for electronics recyclers and ITAD organizations. Many states have initiated laws that make responsible battery recycling mandatory. Fortunately, lead, the main component in common battery types, is easily recycled into new batteries or other lead products. An article by Green Living reported that “roughly 60 to 80 percent of the components in a brand-new battery are created from recycled lead and plastics.”
While this isn’t the first time we are hearing of this substance significantly lengthening the life of a smartphone battery, it is now the focus of research teams to scale up production to create a commercially viable product.