Recycled Battery Material Tested As Fertiliser
Lithium Australia’s NL (ASX: LIT) 90% owned subsidiary Envirostream Australia Pty Ltd is currently assessing the use of zinc and manganese derived from recycled alkaline batteries as micronutrients in blended fertilisers.
Environstream has now commenced fertiliser/wheat-seeding trial near the “wheatbelt” town of Kojonup, located about 260km southeast of the Western Australian capital of Perth.
There are five types of furrow treatment in the controlled Kojonup seeding:
< no fertiliser in seed furrows;
< application of mono-ammonium phosphate (MAP) only to furrows;
< addition of commercial fertiliser with added zinc and manganese to furrows, and
< use of MAP agglomerated with two different dosages of Envirostream’s mixed metal dust (MMD).
While fertilisers incorporating rapid-release micronutrients derived from alkaline batteries are available commercially in the northern hemisphere, the micronutrients Envirostream is producing are slow-release variants tailored specifically for broad-acre farming in Western Australia.
It is hoped that the use of such nutrients in slow-release form – believed to be a first for the Antipodes – in the sandy soils, low in zinc and manganese, that characterise WA’s wheatbelt region will provide growers with significant benefits.
The zinc and manganese micronutrients used in the blended fertilisers were recovered by Envirostream from single-use, disposable alkaline batteries (the type commonly found in torches, toys and remote-control units) in the form of mixed metal dust (MMD’) at its recycling facility in Victoria, Australia. For the field trials, the MMD was agglomerated with mono-ammonium phosphate (MAP) fertiliser.
Harvesting at the trial site is planned for December 2020, with results to follow in the first quarter of 2021.
Lithium Australia Managing Director, Adrian Griffin, said thatin addition to conducting micronutrient field trials, the company is exploring the use of Envirostream’s alkaline MMD as a source of micronutrients with a number of fertiliser manufacturers.
He said that to date, discussions have been positive, and the company will provide further updates as matters progress.
“Using recycled batteries to enhance fertilisers has the potential to divert toxic materials from landfill, provide the fertiliser industry with more sustainable inputs and improve crop yields,” Mr Giffin said.
“The slow-release nature of the micronutrients produced by Envirostream could prove a real advantage in terms of local crop conditions. We look forward to the outcome of the trials later this year.”