July 18, 2019: A joint project between Aurelius Environmental, a UK battery recycling start-up, and Elektron Energy, a South African battery firm, has been allocated a €250,000 ($280,000) grant to combine technologies which they say will ‘uproot’ the battery industry.
The firms claim the project, which combines lightweight grid technology with the leady oxide by-product of Aurelius’s recycling process, will lead to better batteries at a lower production cost.
“Achieving close to 80Wh/kg using low cost and abundant lead-based materials with an extension in life cycle to boot will uproot the battery industry as a whole and provide a platform for fierce competition against that of Li-ion type batteries for specific applications,” said Elektron director Neill Human.
The funding will come from Eureka Eurostars, a cross-continental authority co-funded by the EU funding programme Horizon 2020, which awards grants for SMEs and their partners ‘for innovative projects that will be rapidly commercialized’.
Aurelius technology director Athan Fox told BESB the collaboration with Elektron had been formed through the social media networking site LinkedIn. He said he was approached by Elektron Energy with a view to licensing Aurelius’s hydrometallurgical battery recycling technology, which produces leady oxides that the company says can enhance battery performance.
“We were discussing the business model and realized that these guys knew a lot about battery technology and were innovating battery grids,” he said. “What they’ve done in making grids is already in our innovation strategy.
“Our material makes the battery more active, but we need to improve the battery to make it lighter. While we were in the lab they showed us some data and we figured if we applied for some funding that incorporated both of our respective technologies then that’s like a stepping stone for us to battery development.”
Elektron’s lightweight battery grid technology is licensed by the company from Mega Amps, an energy storage solution developer based in the UK.
“The nanostructured leady oxide as output from the Aurelius process when coupled with lightweight battery grid technology provides an exciting opportunity within the bi-polar battery sphere,” said Neill Human.
“With the combination of our respective technologies and expertise we are targeting a significant improvement in lead-acid battery chemistry and battery design that could serve to usher in a new era of lead-acid batteries and break the energy density stigma surrounding these batteries.
“We are firmly of the belief that we can leverage our existing breakthroughs together, achieving a bi-polar lead acid based battery achieving up to 80Wh/kg at high discharge rates, more than double that of industrial type lead acid batteries.
“In a nutshell, we are looking forward to this collaboration and we see ourselves pioneering a new avenue for the trusted age-old lead acid battery.”
Elektron has also won support from the South African Department of Science and Technology for the collaboration, which has been named PRO-LAB.
Aurelius, which developed its recycling technology with the help of Cambridge University, said it had received ‘60 expressions of interest globally’ about its process.