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Dept of Energy awards Everledger, HP for blockchain battery recycling app

lithium ion battery recycling

The U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) made an award to a consortium for a blockchain powered recycling trial for lithium-ion batteries. Blockchain startup Everledger is developing an app to reward consumers for recycling portable batteries found in phones, laptops and other devices as part of the Team Portables consortium.

Other members of the team are HPCall2recycle and mobile phone company Fairphone.

The aim of the Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize promoted by the DoE is to support solutions that contribute to the capture of up to 90% of lithium-based batteries in the U.S. for recycling or re-introduction of materials into the supply chain. A total of $5.5 million is up for distribution across phased competitions.

Discarding batteries without recycling is hazardous if not disposed of appropriately. Furthermore, recycling batteries can be time-consuming because of the need to discard them at appropriate locations. The funding of $357,000 awarded to Team Portables will be used to develop a prototype of an app called Reward to Recycle that focuses on educating consumers about the need, how to recycle the batteries and provides details of rewards for the actions. 

The Everledger-developed app will create a “Battery Passport” that tracks lithium-based batteries and can be accessed through scanning an IoT identifier on the battery label. The scan yields information about the importance of recycling, the process and potential rewards for doing so. Also, recyclers can track the batteries until their final recycling destination and calculate their sustainable footprint. 

The solutions enabled by the Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize will be important for the auto vehicle industry as it shifts towards electric cars. The International Energy Agency predicts 250 million electric vehicles will be on the road by 2030. While the carbon emissions in electric vehicles are much lower than in regular ones, companies and governments alike need to find a sustainable solution for the disposal and recycling of the batteries. Solutions like the Reward to Recycle app will aid in this mission, although this app targets portable batteries.

“The strength of this solution is the deep partnership between all links in the recycling chain, from government to end consumer,” said Everledger’s CEO and Founder Leanne Kemp. “That’s the key to driving more sustainability in the electronics value chain, moving it from natural mining to what I call ‘urban mining’ – making sure all our existing appliances will be reutilised and power the next generation of gadgets, sustainably and economically.”

Meanwhile, last year Everledger received funding from the DoE for pilot initiatives that assigned digital identities to electric vehicle’s lithium-based batteries to track their lifecycle on blockchain. 

Everledger is very active in blockchain luxury counterfeit solutions. The firm has a partnership with China’s largest e-commerce company for traceability of its diamond sales and with diamond marketplace Rare Carat. The startup is also involved in sustainable initiatives such as the development of a blockchain carbon offset platform for the diamond industry.