I need to know how to dispose of LiPo battery that has swollen due to an overcurrent.
There are two issues.
1. We want to discharge the battery in such a way as there is minimal risk of fire during the discharge and later when the battery is in the recycle or trash bin.
2. We want to dispose of the depleted pack in a recycling container.
The first thing to do is remove all potential from the battery. We do this with an 1157 light bulb (Brake/Marker type bulb). It’s handy to use because it gives an indication of ongoing discharge by emmitting light and doesn’t tie up one of my ever working chargers. We have our bulb wired with alligator clips and a switch to choose between one or both filaments. I don’t remember what the draw is per filament, but we considered that a small cell would be more safely discharged at a lower rate than a larger cell. When discharging a large cell, we set the switch so both filaments burn. We use an ammo box as an oxygen poor fire safe to do this, since we are indoors and we’re working with a suspect pack in the first place.
This is allowed to burn until the bulb is out, then allowed to set connected to the bulb until the following day. This way we are 100% certain the pack is completely exhausted.
Next we solder together the leads on the pack. Just in case any recovery or bounce back of capacity in the pack were possible, it is constantly discharged through the short. There should now be no chance of any kind of arc or spark starting a fire in the recycling container. Being that the pack is completely empty, there should not be any energy present of any kind. It’s now okay to discard /recycle the pack properly. We won’t have to worry about the pack accidentally being shorted and causing a fire in any container. It’s electronically inert.
Federal law (49 CFR 173.185) states lithium type batteries must be individually packaged in non-conductive material and transported to a “permitted” recycler. In our shop, we use Call2Recycle (also known as RBRC 1-877-723-1297). They provide free recycling materials and processing. A bag is provided for each pack, we wrap the back in the pack, seal it, drop it in the box. When the box is full, we contact UPS for a free pickup and delivery to the recycling station. Any local battery seller should have this capability on site. We accept lipos for recycling at Radical RC.
Help finding a Call2Recycle RBRC Recycling Location near you.
There may be other safe and accepted ways of doing this, the above is how we handle it at Radical RC.