Robotic disassembly and end of life

We are using our expertise in robotics to develop safe and efficient techniques for disassembling and recovering batteries and other energy technologies.

Energy technologies consist of complex combinations of scarce critical materials, many of which contain significant amounts of embodied energy and are difficult to recover. With demand for these technologies rising steadily, it is important for both economic and environmental reasons that we develop new approaches that allow us to safely and efficiently disassemble batteries and recover critical materials.

Sorting waste manually is time-consuming, expensive and unpleasant. This problem becomes exported to developing countries with poor safety regimes and in some cases children processing waste. This is unacceptable. Through robotics and automation, we are developing processes to sort and segregate waste streams automatically.

In some cases, these waste streams are highly dangerous. For example, end of life electric vehicle batteries can suffer from a phenomenon called “thermal runaway”, where batteries catch fire or even explode. Processing end of life vehicle batteries is a task that has the potential to be too hazardous for human operatives.

This is where our years of experience of working with the nuclear industry to develop robots capable of operating in the most extreme environments is invaluable. We are able to draw on our expertise in this area, together with our deep understanding of artificial intelligence and machine learning, to develop new techniques for safely and efficiently disposing of energy technologies and recovering valuable materials.