Transformation of used batteries in biocatalysts: circular and sustainable economy

A team from the Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas of the CSIC (CIB-CSIC) has developed an application for the sustainable reuse of components of dead batteries. The scientists have synthesized esters by biocatalysis, using the material obtained from the black mass of batteries and an enzyme, through a selective and clean reaction.

The application developed by the CIB allows the recycling of a high-impact urban waste, batteries. Image: PixaBayVolatile fatty acid esters are responsible for the odour and natural flavour of fruits and vegetables. These esters, used as food additives, are produced at high temperatures with non-selective catalysts. Although conventional chemical methods of synthesis are efficient, they are not very specific. These expensive and pollutant processes are widely applied in the pharmaceutical, cosmetic and food industries.

Conventional chemical methods for ester synthesis are pollutants and not very specific

“The main novelty in our proposal is that we immobilise the enzyme on a solid material which has been obtained through batteries recycling”, explains Alicia Prieto Orzanco, a researcher at the CIB. Although the enzyme immobilisation in biocatalysis has been going on for years, this discovery enables a better environment management in its industrial application.

The immobilization of enzymes on these substrates reduces the final costs and allows the recycling of a high-impact urban waste. In this case, the derivative materials of the batteries act as an inorganic and sustainable substrate.

“Reusing batteries are a clear example of circular economy, as it transforms waste into a worthy material in a sustainable way”, concludes the researcher.


Dra. Marta García Del Barrio
Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas CIB-CSIC
Vicepresidencia Adjunta de Transferencia de Conocimiento del CSIC
Tel.: + 34 – 91 8373112 ext. 4255
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