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Hot Read: ‘UrJar’ Gives Old Batteries New Life

recycle-OWC-300Laptop batteries don’t last forever. And when upgrades are made, sometimes users still aren’t sure what to do with the original battery and ultimately throw them away creating unnecessary e-waste. One great alternative is recycling your battery locally. In fact, OWC recommends recycling locally to minimize environmental impact.

And if you buy a NewerTech NuPower Battery for your Apple laptop and can’t find a local source, we can even help with the recycling. But while recycling used batteries is a great option, elsewhere in the world they are being disassembled and put right back to work.

During the first week of December, IBM Research India presented the findings of a new initiative to bring power to developing countries at the 2014 ACM DEV convention in San Jose, Calif. Working alongside hardware R&D firm RadioStudio, researchers found that an estimated 70% of all discarded laptop batteries still possess enough life to power low-energy DC devices such as an LED lightbulb, cell phone charger, and/or table fan for up to four hours a day, for an entire year, according to MIT Technology Review.

After RadioStudio opened discarded laptop battery packaging and extracted individual storage units called cells, they tested them and combined the live ones to form refurbished battery packs. The device is called an “UrJar”, a play on the Hindi words for energy (urja) and box (jar).

The UrJar is a far more cost-efficient means of providing developing countries with a source of electricity, much cheaper than combining LED lights with solar panels and rechargeable batteries. IBM researchers estimate that each unit could be manufactured for approximately 600 rupees, or 10 U.S. dollars. Worldwide, nearly 1.5 billion people lack access to electricity – 400 million in India alone.

E-waste has become a global problem with an estimated 50 million laptop and desktop computers discarded in the U.S. every year and 142,000 computers each day, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Recycling one million laptops saves the energy equivalent to the electricity used by 3,657 U.S. homes in a year.

Of course, we at OWC have a high level of interest in environmental initiatives and applaud IBM and RadioStudio’s efforts to minimize e-waste and create cost-effective energy. We certainly hope they continue to make progress with the project!


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