IBM researchers in India have come up with a unique idea of using old and discarded laptop batteries for providing power low energy DC devices.
In a paper titled “UrJar: A Lighting Solution using Discarded Laptop Batteries”, IBM and Radio Studio India boffins explain, “ Forty percent of the world’s population, including a significant portion of the rural and urban poor sections of the population in India, does not have access to reliable electricity supply. Concurrently, there is rapid penetration of battery-operated portable computing devices such as laptops, both in the developing and developed world.”
Researchers have proposed a new device called Ur Jar that could resolve issue of power shortage at community level.
“To understand the usability of UrJar in a real world scenario, we deployed it at five street-side shops in India, which did not have access to grid electricity. The participants appreciated the long duration of backup power provided by the device to meet their lighting requirements. To conclude, we present an ecosystem which consists of a community-level energy shed and UrJar devices individually owned by households, as a mechanism for DC electrification of rural areas in developing countries. We show that UrJar has the potential to channel e-waste towards the alleviation of energy poverty, thus simultaneously providing a sustainable solution for both problems,” further explains the research.
Researchers acknowledge recycling Li-Ion batteries is not commercially viable while recovering metals from batteries is cumbersome. Despite challenges, researchers point out that about 90% of returned phone batteries are in good shape or can be used with simple service. “These batteries are often discarded because of misdiagnosis of device performance problems. Recently, some entrepreneurs have leveraged
this finding as a business opportunity wherein they identify batteries which are still usable, and recirculate them,” adds the study.
While researchers assert battery recycling hasn't become easier or low-cost, but point out their latest effort shows e-waste management is possible and could be to serve a larger community.