Inside the labs at RIT, work is being done to protect our environment. "Our research is really trying to understand the economic and environmental trade-offs for these rechargeable types of batteries at their end of life," says Assistant Professor Gabrielle Gaustad.
Several others at the Golisano Institute for Sustainability have received grants to study battery recycling. Specifically rechargeable lithium ion batteries found in cell phones, laptops, and portable power tools.
It's important research because every year 3 million lithium ion batteries enter the waste stream. "We're trying to figure out if they do end up in landfills, what happens to them there," adds Gaustad.
The batteries are used a lot now and in the future it's expected we will rely on them even more. That's because they are used in electric cars. "While we're using a lot of the small battery types to do this type of research at end of life recycling technologies we're thinking ahead to having this large volume in the future from vehicles," says Gaustad.
The hope is that their research, will set the stage for what we do with these batteries in the future.
The clock is ticking, starting in December it will be against state law to knowingly dispose of covered rechargeable batteries.
"Given that our initial research was funded by NY state that we can start building that infrastructure here in NY state and hopefully be able to implement what we have learned during that scale up in larger terms maybe even globally."