A Brunel University London graduate’s innovative solution to the huge waste management problem created by supposedly ‘dead’ lithium batteries has seen him named one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 European science entrepreneurs.
Aceleron, the company founded by Carlton Cummins and business partner Amrit Chandan, creates the process to extract value from used lithium ion batteries removed from vehicles and consumer electronics.
These batteries are first evaluated for reuse using Aceleron’s testing algorithm. Good ones are repurposed into battery packs for applications such as electric bicycles or renewable energy systems for homes.
Carlton’s battery repurposing process was first trialled at Brunel in 2016. He tested some 150 ‘discarded’ batteries from laptops and other equipment, and found that on average, they were still at around 80% usable capacity. This initial trial gave the insight he needed to forge ahead with a business plan.
Carlton graduated from the MSc Sustainability, Entrepreneurship and Design at Brunel in 2016, a course he says “changed my thinking about environmental problems and solutions design. It introduced me to many philosophies like clean technology and sustainable design which really helped shape my ideas”.
Commenting on the battery trials, he explains: “We didn’t expect the batteries to have zero energy capacity but were expecting perhaps 50 or 60%. An average of 80% was quite impressive. When a battery is considered no longer good for the laptop it is not that it is dead – it just doesn’t have enough juice for the laptop, but may be plenty of energy for something else.”
“Lots of organisations change their equipment on a rolling basis, so some of the equipment sent to recycling isn’t anywhere close to dead. It isn’t just rubbish - there’s a lot of energy still stored which can be obtained.
“By repurposing used batteries, we can reduce lithium ion battery waste by as much as 75%. This is 75% less waste that has to be shipped overseas for recycling.”
Carlton and University of Birmingham alumnus Amrit appear on the prestigious 2017 Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe list for science and healthcare and ‘dorm room founders’ list.
Carlton says: “We received an email that we had made the list the night before it was made publicly available. I went to bed in disbelief and woke up seeing loads of social media about Aceleron on the Forbes List. The first person I told was Amrit, and then my parents.
“Getting on to the list has been significantly beneficial for me as a personal aspiration. I’ll be 29 this year, if I didn’t make the list this year it wasn’t ever going to happen!
“This vote of confidence from Forbes has actually accelerated plans for 2017 by getting Aceleron an audience with key stake holders much sooner than we had planned.”
Last year Aceleron also won the Shell LiveWIRE Smarter Future Award and took second place in the Mayor of London’s low carbon challenge for students, just a few months after the company was created.
The Aceleron team will be heading to the Forbes summit in Tel Aviv this April, an event which brings together Forbes list alumni from across the world.
Find out more about MSc Sustainability, Entrepreneurship and Design at Brunel