A Perth-based lithium battery recycler, Renewable Metals, has won the inaugural Supercharge Australia Innovation Challenge Award with its unique technology that turns battery waste into battery metals.
The Renewable Metals process achieves more than 95 per cent recovery of the valuable materials in lithium batteries including lithium, nickel, cobalt, copper, manganese and graphite, without creating black mass and saving 20-30 per cent of the costs of standard recycling.
The announcement was made at a gala event hosted by Dan Ilic at EnergyLab in Sydney on Thursday night.
“Renewable Metals unique alkali-based process recovers nearly all the lithium and other metals with minimal chemical by-products and 65% less emissions than mining,” said Renewable Metals CEO Luan Atkinson.
“Other metals recycling processing use 1.2 tonnes of acid for every tonne of battery waste, creating 1.5 tonnes of sodium sulfate (salt).”
The company is considered world-leading by New Energy Nexus CEO and Managing Director of the California Clean Energy Fund, Danny Kennedy, “I’ve seen billion-dollar battery recycling start-ups in the United States emerging in the last few years and none have technology as exciting as this.”
Sicona came second, with a University of Wollongong-developed technology to produce next gen battery materials technology used in the anodes of lithium-ion batteries for electric-mobility and storage of renewable energy.
Roev, came third – they convert large fleets of utes to electric, solving unmet demand and managing energy usage. Every converted Ute has the potential to reduce C02 emissions by over 100 tonnes through its usable lifespan
Fourth place getter is Brisbane-based Vaulta, who make recyclable and repairable high-performance batteries. Vaulta’s batteries are designed, assembled and tested at their manufacturing facility in Brisbane’s inner north.
Despite producing almost 60% of the world’s lithium, Australia retains less than 1% of the US$400 billion and rising annual product value.
Ninety-eight percent of the lithium mined in Australia is refined overseas.
Supercharge Australia aims to support lithium battery innovation in Australia and capture more of the lithium value chain, by encouraging export-oriented lithium battery value chain start-ups.
As Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said, “Lithium has an extraordinary capacity. We need to not just dig it up. I want to make sure we use the lithium and nickel and other products we have to make batteries here.”
Supercharge Australia is a project of two not-for-profit organisations, global clean energy start-up accelerator New Energy Nexus, and Australia’s largest climate tech start-up accelerator EnergyLab.
Since 2016 New Energy Nexus has supported 5,268 entrepreneurs globally, created more than 6,000 green jobs and mobilised more than $US1.5 billion in investments.
“Australian innovators are uniquely placed to supply emerging and mature global markets with low impact lithium products and resources to support our energy transition with better batteries,” said Danny Kennedy.
EnergyLab has supported Australian start-ups focused on clean energy and climate tech since 2017, with more than 150 program alumni.
“Supercharge Australia helps ensure Australia’s energy security by supporting the development of the technology needed here for the renewable energy transition,” EnergyLab CEO Megan Fisher said.
“Australia is well positioned to capture the full value of the battery and electrification revolution,” she said.
In the Supercharge Australia Innovation Challenge 11 start-ups ranging from developers of novel cell chemistries to electric vehicle up-scalers and critical metals recyclers, were matched with mentors and experts with the aim of bolstering a vibrant national battery ecosystem.
“Australia can become a leader in lithium battery technology, from sourcing to advanced battery and EV manufacturing, and capture massive market opportunities as the world electrifies. But to do this, we need much more activity across all phases of the lithium battery value chain, and this requires more investment and more start-ups to meet the innovation challenge,” Fisher said.