A few kilometers from the city center, in the locality of Gonnet, PLAPIMU-LASEISIC (Pilot Plant Multipurpose Laboratory and Industry Services and the Scientific System) is a research and development of different projects belonging to the Faculty of Science Exact UNLP and the Commission for Scientific Research (CIC) of the province of Buenos Aires.
"The plant was conceived, designed and installed with a simple, economic and absolutely sustainable method," the doctor of chemistry, Horacio Thomas, in charge of the plant and laboratory director.
He adds: "The idea was to develop a process that would recover the metals from used batteries achieving a dual purpose, firstly to avoid contamination of soil and groundwater and other metals recovered for reuse, reducing mining and pollution in the production thereof. "
 "The disposal of used batteries is serious environmental problem, both for its size and because of the lack of viable alternatives in terms of environmental, social or economic terms," ​​notes Thomas.
And in landfills, and with the passage of time, batteries lose housings and corrode due to climate action and fermentation processes of waste. At this stage, the filter released toxic compounds contaminating soil and water. Also, sometimes they end up being burnt causing an increase in pollution and that generates very dangerous and carcinogenic substances such as dioxins and furans.
The recycling process
The first step is the sizing of alkaline batteries out girls (AAA), medium (AA), large (C) and larger (D). The plant does not process recyclable batteries.
Using a traditional method, the iron casing that covers the batteries short. Steel coverage, some paper, internal mud (because it has a large amount of carbon), and reuse the metals like zinc and manganese: after opening the different components are recovered.
Once they separated, treated in a sulfuric acid solution produced by a biotechnological process. It should be noted that in the industry, the method of sulfuric acid generation is polluting but we "we get using a biological production bioreactors," the doctor of chemistry.
Thomas explained: "to prevent contamination a biotechnological method for obtaining sulfuric acid was chosen by oxidation of elemental sulfur bacteria. Comprises a bioreactor where bacteria grow mining (Acidithitiobacillus thiooxidans) acid producing means for extracting metals from batteries, process performed in a second stirred tank reactor, called leaching reactor. After the leachate obtained is filtered and passed into a third reactor which is where the separation and recovery of metals present is performed by different methods ".
Microbiologically catalysed production of sulfuric acid has advantages over the use of commercial acid because it is environmentally friendly, works at room temperature and normal pressure, uses minimal amounts of water, it produces acid to the appropriate concentration for use, avoiding the transport of dangerous substances .
Finally, the process does precipitate out the various components that can be reused finally obtaining manganese oxide and zinc carbonate. The former can be used to manufacture steel and applied a second is the food, pharmaceutical, shipbuilding and even construction.
Recovered metals can be reinserted in the industry to use. Thus toxic waste is transformed into something usable in various ways.
Located in Centennial Road and 506 Multipurpose Pilot Plant has a capacity to recycle 80 kilos of batteries per month. That is equivalent to the battery consumption of a population of about 8,000 inhabitants.
Notably PLA. PI. MU is not a collection center for batteries, is a research and development laboratory which aims to care for the environment.