In 2013, the market scale of China's lead acid batteries registered CNY 150.8 billion, up 24% year-on-year. China had generated 205 million Kilo Volt Ampere Hour (KVAH), an increase of 15.4% year-on-year; from 2007 to 2013, the industry compound growth rate reached 22%. With majority of the concentration in coastal area concentrated in Zhejiang, Guangdong, Jiangsu, Hebei, Hubei and Shandong Provinces (2011):
Lead Acid battery powered 95% of the electric vehicle (incl. electric bike) in China in 2011.
China's lead consumption estimated to rise 4 percent to about 5.1 million tonnes in 2015 from the year before, compared to a 5-percent rise estimated for 2014.
Lead acid battery enterprise had underwent significant consolidation driven by government increasing control of number of battery enterprise due to sub-standard lead pollution issues.
Producing lead from recycled material is 38% less from the virgin.
Currently (2013) 300 lead recycling plants in China, concentrating in Jiangsu, Shandong, Henan, Hubei, and Anhui province accounting for 80% of all recycled production in China. Capacity varied. Many have recycling facilities that do not meet the standard.
The official recycling rate of lead in China’s lead acid battery industry is 31.2%. 65% accounting for informal, illegal recycling. Most developed nations have over 95% recycling rate.
Breakdown of recycling facilities in China:
Majority of the current recycling operations are in the primitive form, with recycling centers use methods such as sorting, firing, incineration, acidic and alkaline baths, and manual assembly, open burning of wires and cables, and strong acid leaching. These operations are usually carried out with no or very little personal protection equipment or pollution control measures. In open burning of materials, fly ash particulates laden with lead and other toxic materials are usually emitted, resulting in increased human exposure, contamination of food, soil, and surface water. The average blood lead levels (BLLs) of Chinese children living in some industrial and urban areas, where lead levels in air, soil, dust, and food can be high, have been found to be significantly higher by as much as 16%. Children make up one quarter of population. Damaging to the nervous system, kidney, cardiovascular system, and reproductive system.
Main issues in recycling:
No proper channels of recycling: majority by private recycling facilities that are not regulated.
Lack of advance technology: mostly recycling still in primitive form, resulting in decreased recycling efficiency and pollutions.
1) Two main lead acid battery recycling methods:
Hydrometallurgy: consists of the acid or base leaching of scrap to put the metals in a solution. Once in a solution, metals can be recovered by precipitation, altering the pH of the solution or adding some reaction agent, or by electrolysis. The solution can also be separated by solvent extraction, using an organic solvent, which binds to the metallic ion, separating the metal from the solution. The metal can then be recovered by electrolysis or by