Spent lead-acid battery recycling in China – A review and sustainable analyses on mass flow of lead

Document Type

Journal Article


Pergamon Press


School of Engineering




Sun, Z., Cao, H., Zhang, X., Lin, X., Zheng, W., Cao, G., ... & Zhang, Y. (2017). Spent lead-acid battery recycling in China–A review and sustainable analyses on mass flow of lead. Waste Management. 64, 190-201. Available here.


Lead is classified to be one of the top heavy metal pollutants in China. The corresponding environmental issues especially during the management of spent lead-acid battery have already caused significant public awareness and concern. This research gives a brief overview on the recycling situation based on an investigation of the lead industry in China and also the development of technologies for spent lead-acid batteries. The main principles and research focuses of different technologies including pyrometallurgy, hydrometallurgy and greener technologies are summarized and compared. Subsequently, the circulability of lead based on the entire life cycle analyses of lead-acid battery is calculated. By considering different recycling schemes, the recycling situation of spent lead-acid battery in China can be understood semi-quantitatively. According to this research, 30% of the primary lead production can be shut down that the lead production can still ensure consecutive life cycle operation of lead-acid battery, if proper management of the spent lead-acid battery is implemented according to current lead industry situation in China. This research provides a methodology on the view of lead circulability in the whole life cycle of a specific product and is aiming to contribute more quantitative guidelines for efficient organization of lead industry in China.



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