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Battery recycling a Mexican problem
by Staff Writers
Mexico City (UPI) Dec 9, 2011

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Used American batteries being recycled in Mexico using crude methods expose workers and residents to dangerous levels of toxic lead, environmentalists say.

Domestic U.S. recycling has become more difficult and expensive because of strict new Environmental Protection Agency standards on lead pollution, leading some companies to send the work -- and the danger -- to countries with lower protection standards, The New York Times reported Friday.

About 20 percent of spent American vehicle and industrial batteries are now being sent to Mexico for recycling to meet an exploding global demand for lead batteries crucial to cellphone networks, solar power arrays and automobiles.

Spent batteries can contain as much as 40 pounds of lead, which can interfere with neurological development in children and cause health problems in adults.

When batteries are broken for recycling, the lead can be released as dust and, during melting, as lead-laced emissions.

While Mexico does have some regulation for smelting and recycling lead, the laws are poorly enforced, experts said.

"If we export, we should only be sending batteries to countries with standards as strict as ours, and in Mexico that is not the case," said Perry Gottesfeld of Occupational Knowledge International, a San Francisco group devoted to reducing lead exposure.

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'Living' battery on Pacific Ocean floor
San Francisco (UPI) Dec 9, 2011 - U.S. scientists say they've discovered a living battery at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, in microbes that live near hydrothermal vents.

As they feed on chemicals rising from the seafloor, they create electrical currents that flow through the walls of the chimney-like structures they inhabit, researchers said.

"The amount of power produced by these microbes is rather modest," Harvard biologist and engineer Peter Girguis, told ScienceNews.org. "But you could technically produce power in perpetuity."

Girguis presented his findings at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, explaining how he and his colleagues discovered the current with an electrode inserted in the side of an underwater chimney 7,200 feet below the ocean surface at the Juan de Fuca Ridge off the Pacific Northwest coast.

It could be possible to tap this power to run seafloor scientific sensors, he said.


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Drexel's Gogotsi Questions Accuracy of Battery Performance Metrics
Philadelphia, PA (SPX) Dec 01, 2011
Solving the mystery of prematurely dead cell phone and laptop batteries may prove to be a vital step toward creating a sustainable energy grid according to Drexel researcher Dr. Yury Gogotsi. In a piece published in the November 18 edition of Science, Gogotsi, who is the head of the A.J. Drexel Nanotechnology Institute, calls for a new, standardized gauge of performance measurement for ene ... read more

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