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Boris's dragons back electric car battery reuse

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Dragon’s Den style judges at London’s Low Carbon Entrepreneur competition were wowed by a strategy to turn electric car batteries into low cost power packs.

Brunel student Carlton Cummins took second place in Boris Johnson’s contest challenging students and graduates to cut London’s carbon emissions.

Aceleron, Carlton’s blueprint to recycle lithium electric car batteries came second out of 10 finalists. As part of his project, batteries are converted into containers for developing countries so that they can store renewable energy such as solar power.

“I was really happy because this is the first time I have presented the idea publicly,” said the Sustainability, Entrepreneurship and Design student.

Carlton, 27, has already bagged £55,000 of technical and design support from Autodesk and Aceleron after coming 8th out of 80 European level contestants in the Clean Tech Challenge semi-finals. He is meeting Climate-KIC, the EU’s main climate innovation initiative next week and aims to start power pack production in April, to launch in July.

 Aceleron stems from a Brunel assignment to develop a technology or process to solve a sustainability problem. Despite the rising popularity of electric cars in the UK there is only one electric car battery recycling facility in Europe, and Carlton spotted a gap in the market. After three years working in renewable energy in his native Barbados, he understood developing countries’ need for low cost energy.

Lifting the UK’s waste management burden and taking energy to people without electricity or where it is intermittent and unaffordable, Aceleron will collect used batteries and repackage them for reuse. “I wanted something of high value to both regions,” said Carlton. “Right now in the UK electric car batteries are a nuisance, and in developing areas, while there’s plenty of sunshine, electricity is expensive because they rely on imported fuels. Solar technology is growing rapidly but there’s few practical ways to store it.”

Dr Edwin Routledge, MSc Programme Director said: “Carlton should be very proud. He made an excellent pitch and the judges loved his idea. It was a hotly contested decision.”

It’s the second Low Carbon competition success in a row for Brunel. The university’s Solveiga Pakstaite won last year with her reactive gel labels that show when food has gone off. “Brunel is up there with UCL and Imperial in terms of innovation," Dr Routledge added. “We should celebrate this."

Find out more about Brunel’s unique interdisciplinary MSc Sustainability, Entrepreneurship and Design here

Image by Elisa Alexieva