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Scientific Investigations Report 2008–5141

Material Use in the United States—Selected Case Studies for Cadmium, Cobalt, Lithium, and Nickel in Rechargeable Batteries

David R. Wilburn

Scientific Investigations Report 2008-5141 and link to report PDF (1,195 KB)


This report examines the changes that have taken place in the consumer electronic product sector as they relate to (1) the use of cadmium, cobalt, lithium, and nickel contained in batteries that power camcorders, cameras, cell phones, and portable (laptop) computers and (2) the use of nickel in vehicle batteries for the period 1996 through 2005 and discusses forecasted changes in their use patterns through 2010. Market penetration, material substitution, and technological improvements among nickel-cadmium (NiCd), nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH), and lithium-ion (Li-ion) rechargeable batteries are assessed. Consequences of these changes in light of material consumption factors related to disposal, environmental effects, retail price, and serviceability are analyzed in a series of short case studies.

For more information about this report, please contact the author.

First posted May 2009

For additional information, please contact the author.

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Suggested citation:
Wilburn, D.R., 2008, Material use in the United States—Selected case studies for cadmium, cobalt, lithium, and nickel in rechargeable batteries, U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2008-5141, available online only at

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