Energising idea catapults battery team to Global Climate Launchpad

Four Deakin University researchers’ green business idea to power light vehicles with used EV batteries, potentially reducing India’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, catapulted them to the international Grand Final of Climate Launchpad 2021.

Named ‘SEE Labs’ (or Smart Eco Energy Labs), the team consists of PhD students Ms Nanditha Sirigiri, Ms Sneha Malunavar, storEnergy’s Mr Mojtaba Eftekharnia and early career researcher Dr Kalani Periyapperuma – all from the electromaterials group at Deakin’s Institute for Frontier Materials (IFM).

Their idea uses smart, sustainable, repurposed and ready-to-use battery technologies – which involves saving end of life batteries from landfill and thus reducing their toxic chemical pollutants – coupled with advanced artificial intelligence. With transportation and household applications in mind, the team focus particularly on clean, affordable batteries for light vehicles.

Taking out the state, national and South-East Asia Climate Launchpad finals, the team reached the Global Final, where they competed against the world’s top 70 clean-tech start-ups from 55 countries, with investors and industry leaders among the audience.

“We are excited that our battery technologies, with their faster and smarter features, could support the third-largest market for light vehicles in the world, India. Their sales reached over two million units in 2020 alone,” the SEE Labs team said.

“As researchers in the energy sector, we’re passionate about using our battery expertise in storage solutions to mitigate the rapidly increasing effects of climate change. Recently the Indian Government set a goal of clean energy accounting for 60 per cent of its current energy sources by 2030. Our product can help in reducing up to 15 per cent of the overall CO2 emissions, meaning a saving of 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 in India each year.”

The researchers were encouraged by storEnergy Director, Professor Maria Forsyth, to participate in the project as a means of growing their expertise and industry connections to support the translation of their novel research.

“I am delighted that SEE Labs has achieved considerable success in their Climate Launchpad attempt. It is a testament to their passion and collaboration with industry as next-generation battery research leaders,” Professor Forsyth said.

The SEE Labs team noted that their battery technology will repurpose end-of-use lithium-ion batteries from electric vehicle suppliers. In doing so, their project can generate notable earnings for suppliers and savings for manufacturers. It is estimated EV suppliers will earn about $50 dollars per used battery unit, and light vehicle manufacturers will save about $700 dollars per vehicle when working with SEE Labs.

“Our mission is not only to spin out technologies with the ability to significantly reduce CO2  emissions and make a big impact, but also to inspire other young researchers to pursue their passions. To them we say: take on any opportunity to develop your green ideas to achieve sustainable battery-led futures.”

The Climate Launchpad competition aims to help aspiring entrepreneurs grow their clean-tech ideas into global businesses. It has a mission to unlock the world’s cleantech potential that addresses climate change, seeking the most “nascent, breakthrough ‘green’ business ideas”. The competition is an initiative of EIT Climate-KIC, a European knowledge and innovation community.

The SEE Labs team are now looking for other platforms to showcase and develop their idea.

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