An entertaining video about reclaiming lithium batteries in discarded vape pens

Originally published at: An entertaining video about reclaiming lithium batteries in discarded vape pens | Boing Boing


Fascinating video, I can’t believe people just throw this stuff on the ground when they’re done with it, absolutely disgusting. While the disposable nature is in itself a problem, can they at least throw them away properly instead of strewn about?


Wait… you can recharge the thing? I had no idea. I just throw it out and buy a new one when it stops working.

They certainly look like lithium-ion batteries, just like in your smart phone. Lithium-ion cells are normally very rechargeable (hundreds of cycles.) But to keep the costs down (and probably to keep the turnover high) these manufacturers don’t include the needed circuitry to charge them. So if you want to recharge them, you’ll have to disassemble them and hook the cell up to a charger on your own.

Here’s the tricky part: you have to know what the battery chemistry is in order to safely charge a lithium cell. A lithium-polymer cell has a somewhat different charge profile than a lithium-iron cell. Get it wrong, and you risk the cell bursting into flame.

As he said in the video, the charging circuitry is ridiculously cheap – I bought a dozen off Amazon for about $5 USD. But even assuming they could be bought by the million for about $0.10 each apparently would add too much to the price and size of the devices. Not to mention the risk of fire due to the ultra-low-quality parts going into these things.


Truth :point_up_2:t2:


Tiny Spicy Pillows


Agreed. I’m sure there are unenforced restrictions on disposal, but this should be illegal. If I had my druthers, it would be illegal to even sell anything like this that wasn’t designed to last the life of the battery and be recharged/refilled.


If you can train crows to retrieve cigarette butts, you should be able to train them to retrieve discarded vape pens, extract the batteries, and recycle them into new devices.


I was being facetious. I manufacture Nixie watches using similar LiPo cells.
But I wouldn’t be surprised if there werevape pen customers who didn’t realize that they’re rechargeable.


I can get over the similarity to smoking a discarded cigarette butt off the ground.

The vape pen cells are usually marked 3.7V, so you can tell from this that they’re Li poly. It’s also mentioned in the video that the cheap charging boards are usually set up for charging at 1A, so you’ll have to replace a resistor to get an appropriate current for these low-capacity ones- 3K worked for me.

I’ve ‘rescued’ and charged a bunch of these- probably 90% of them charged fine.

If they were rechargeable, then they’d have to be refillable (with liquid) too, and then you’ve got a whole different product.


I can. A lot of them are former tobacco smokers who were told it’s acceptable to just toss the butts on the pavement when they were done. Show me someone who smokes or smoked cigarettes and I’ll show you someone more prone to be a litterbug in general.

Also, check out the variety of bright colours on the vape cases. Between that and the flavoured garbage inside it’s obvious who these scumbag companies are targeting.

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Someone mentioned it on a previous thread about plastic recycling, but companies should have to shoulder the environmental cost. They seem like the sort of item where if you were charged a significant recycling fee/deposit, it would encourage users to return the product. Or alternatively, steer the market toward providing only refillable/rechargeable options.

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I wish the batteries had a recycling cost built in like CRV bottles and cans here in California. Though looking up facts I found that California Has $600M in Unclaimed Can, Bottle Deposits.
Maybe burn up some of this with vape batteries?
And extend to all batteries.

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Thank you.
Do you have a link to the charging boards you used?

No, just a scar on my thumb from dicking around with a battery I didn’t take seriously enough.

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