Ever Resource promises ‘circular economy of materials for battery market’
Cambridge-based circular economy pioneer Ever Resource, in partnership with Fenix Battery Recycling and the University of Birmingham, have been awarded a £995,000 Innovate UK grant for a lithium recycling project.
Both Ever Resource and Fenix are based in Cambridge – at St John’s Innovation Park – and Fenix operates a battery recycling facility in Willenhall, West Midlands.
Dr Athan Fox, a chemistry and materials science specialist – formerly technology director at Aurelius Technologies – with a PhD in chemistry from the University of Cambridge, is CEO of Ever Resource and director of technology for Fenix Battery Recycling.
Ever Resource was co-founded in Cambridge by Dr Fox and Miles Freeman, a former director of ECOBAT, the world’s largest recycler of lead. The new company is a research-led SME that turns waste into feed-stock and produces value-added products from end-of-life materials.
In February Switzerland-based sustainable technologies company iQ International AG signed a share purchase agreement to acquire Ever Resource and hire the founders – though iQ’s institutional funding has been delayed and with it the acquisition.
“Lithium ion is at the forefront of the electric transport and energy storage revolution,” says Dr Fox of the fast-evolving electric car battery market. “The market for these batteries is currently growing at a compound annual growth rate of 18 per cent – but there is no cradle-to-grave solution for all of the technology metals and minerals used to manufacture these batteries.
“To support global recycling initiatives in this space, we are developing an innovative system which physically separates with more than 99 per cent efficiency anode-arisings and cathode-arisings in shredded end-of-life lithium batteries. By separating these component streams before downstream chemical or metallurgical processing, we are making recycling cleaner, greener and more economically sensible.”
Fenix Battery Recycling was co-founded by Dr Fox, Miles Freeman, Neil Muttock – a patent attorney with experience in managing recycling businesses – and Damian Lambkin, an Exeter-based entrepreneur. The team has established its recycling plant in Willenhall, and has recently acquired a new site in Kilwinning, Scotland, to expand its battery recycling business.
Damian Lambkin, commercial and business development director at Fenix Battery Recycling, said: “Our Willenhall plant has been ready to open its doors since October 2020, so we look forward to receiving the permit very soon. We are also accepting lithium ion batteries now, which we will store at our fully licensed and permitted site in Kilwinning, Scotland, ready for recycling when our lithium ion shredding operation kicks off in the next six to 12 months.”
The University of Birmingham research group – including Professor of Energy Materials, Emma Kendrick, and Dr Rob Somerville – invented the technology underpinning the project.
“The technology is unique because it can potentially improve the carbon, waste and economic footprint of most existing and emerging downstream recycling methodologies – including pyrometallurgy, hydrometallurgy and electroplating,” notes Dr Fox.
The project has also received backing from Formula E, the ABB-sponsored single-seater motorsport championship that uses electric vehicles.
“The project will be piloted in Willenhall. We will develop a protocol for end-of-life Formula E battery packs, including a processing line starting from 500kg per hour.
“We will pave the way for a circular economy of materials for the battery supply chain.”