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Sun Sep 29, 2019, 08:57 AM

Question about Duracell Optimum batteries

I didn't know whether to post this in "Environment" or "Science." Thought some folks here might have a better understanding. My question: Does anyone with a knowledge of batteries know if there is any advantage to using these batteries in terms of the environment?

Any thoughts on them would be appreciated. Things I am wondering:

The amount of energy expended to produce these batteries vs. the benefit of using fewer batteries and the additional energy they provide?

Is anything inside these batteries once they are disposed of more or less harmful to the environment than your typical alkaline battery?

All things considered, is it more environmentally-friendly to use these new batteries or the regular ones? Or is it a wash?

Thanks in advance for any opinions.

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Reply Question about Duracell Optimum batteries (Original post)
Mike 03 Sep 29 OP
NNadir Sep 29 #1
cstanleytech Sep 29 #2
NNadir Sep 29 #3

Response to Mike 03 (Original post)

Sun Sep 29, 2019, 10:14 AM

1. This is an excellent and thoughtful question; thanks for asking.

Most disposable batteries are based on zinc chemistry. Years ago they contained mercury as well, but happily this was outlawed.

Zinc ores can contain trace levels of cadmium, but generally this is not entirely serious as is the case with nickel cadmium batteries of the rechargeable type.

This said, nickel cadmium batteries may be superior in a purely environmental sense since in many areas they are recyclable and are not part of the throwaway culture. (Inevitably they do end up in landfills however, where they represent a long term hazard to future generations, and the mining of cadmium in China for batteries and so called "renewable energy" has presented serious and observed health risks, including health risks to the food supply there.

The chemistry of batteries, including the other (and rapidly growing major) alternative to nickel cadmium, lithium batteries of various types, is actually appalling on many levels, but I would agree that in many places they are essential. In batteries for electric cars there is an extreme ethical question connected with cobalt, cobalt mining representing a case of a "conflict metal," involving the use of human slavery.

There is the issue of the organic chemistry of some batteries which is also not pretty, but is seldom discussed.

A great deal of research has gone into sodium batteries, which would potentially be cleaner than existing battery types.

Personally, if pressed, a caring person will decide between rechargables - where recycling exists they can be cleaner - and disposable zinc batteries. If there is a recycling program and you are committed to using it, go with rechargables. If no such program exists, go with zinc.

My environmental philosophy is that there should be no such thing as waste, and that all matter should be recycled. This would require high density energy; any form of matter can be recycled if and only if there is sufficient energy to overcome the entropy of mixing, and moreover, the energy must be clean and sustainable, which limits the case to nuclear energy.

In general every battery of every type is a device which wastes energy.

Thanks for asking. The more we think about these things, the less onerous we will be to future generations.

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Response to NNadir (Reply #1)

Sun Sep 29, 2019, 06:51 PM

2. Your view on nuclear on the forum is well known as you say the mining for the materials for

things like batteries for solar not to mention the panels themselves has a greatly negative impact however I do wonder how it compare to the mining for fuel for nuclear in regards to environmental impact of the mining and refining? Not to mention of course the environmental cost of providing the materials for building the reactors themselves.

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Response to cstanleytech (Reply #2)

Sun Sep 29, 2019, 07:27 PM

3. I favor breed and burn reactors, one example of them being Bill Gates' Terrapower reactor.

In this case, it is easily shown that the uranium already mined, and the thorium already dumped to make renewable energy stuff is sufficient to provide all of the worlds energy for many centuries to come. There are many other examples of this design beside Gates' company.

I've recently been exploring an exceptional case of a design.

There are many ways to extract uranium without the use of mines, and in fact, after the gas companies are done destroying much of Pennsylvania for all time to frack gas to back up renewable shit, there is a good argument for using supercritical carbon dioxide extraction to remove the uranium left behind, since those wells will otherwise be leaking radon gas for eternity.

I have written extensively about seawater extraction. Another option would be to remove natural uranium leaching into drinking water. I'm sure I've put a few posts up here about this situation; I recall one about India's groundwater, but I'm too lazy to wade through my posts to find it.

The materials required for building reactors is pretty much the same materials required to render wilderness areas into industrial parks for wind turbines; however the quantity required is orders of magnitude smaller because 1) they do not require redundant plants dependent on the operation of the weather; a wind industrial park requires a redundant gas plant that will not operate when negative pricing is in effect but the materials to build the plant all need to be there in case the wind stops blowing 2) nuclear plants built on 1950's technology have demonstrated safe operations for as much as a half a century, whereas wind turbines are typically landfill after 20 years - and gen IIIa reactors are designed to operate for 80 years, 3) distributed energy requires huge amounts of copper and steel for transmission, 4) nuclear plants do not require batteries to back them up, which makes the already abysmal mass efficiency of so called "renewable energy" even worse, and finally, because the high heat available for certain kinds of nuclear reactors means that concrete might be manufactured to capture carbon dioxide rather than to release it.

The high mass requirements of so called "renewable energy" has been discussed in many places, but my personal favorite, if only because it is explicit is this one:

...for an equivalent installed capacity, solar and wind facilities require up to 15 times more concrete, 90 times more aluminium, and 50 times more iron, copper and glass than fossil fuels or nuclear energy (Supplementary Fig. 1). Yet, current production of wind and solar energy meets only about 1% of global demand, and hydroelectricity meets about 7% (ref. 2).

If the contribution from wind turbines and solar energy to global energy production is to rise from the current 400 TWh (ref. 2) to 12,000 TWh in 2035 and 25,000 TWh in 2050, as projected by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)7, about 3,200 million tonnes of steel, 310 million tonnes of aluminium and 40 million tonnes of copper will be required to build the latest generations of wind and solar facilities (Fig. 2).


Nature Geoscience volume 6, pages 894896 (2013)


One sees this comparison rising more and more in the literature as the realization that so called "renewable energy" has not worked, is not working, and will not work to address climate change.

Note these materials costs discussed in this link do not account for the energy requirements necessary because we have left only lower grade ores for future generations. I note that these figures represent a significant premium over the production of steel and aluminum in particular of the existing production of these metals, a topic I have explored in detail elsewhere.

Finally no one had industrially demonstrated the production of steel without coal, or aluminum without petroleum coke, used to make so called "green anodes."

I have written about how this might be possible, but it has not been industrially explored, although reports of lab scale processes exist.

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