Battery recycling automation

Probot Oy was the only Finnish company to receive funding from the Trinity project, which aims to encourage European companies to utilize new digital technologies and robotics. With the help of the funding, Probot Oy is now developing an automation solution for battery recycling in cooperation with the Finnish recycling plant AkkuSer Oy.

In Finland alone, the number of recyclable batteries and accumulators exceeds 1,500 tonnes per year, while in EU-wide scale the number is more than 88,000 tonnes. If all the batteries sold were recycled, the amount would be at least double. The numbers are huge, and the use of batteries is increasing year by year. The challenge for the recycling is that for further processing the different batteries and accumulators must be separated by type, but batteries and accumulators using different technologies can look the same on the outside.

Would you recognize which one is a lithium battery and which is an alkaline battery? Source: Recser Oy

“Sorting batteries and accumulators into different fractions is very important for efficient recycling. This way, different batteries and accumulators are later treated in the right kind of recycling processes and the recovery of different materials is maximized.” Tommi Karjalainen, President and CEO of AkkuSer Oy.

This means that currently, sorting requires a considerable amount of manual labour. This is exactly the problem that Probot Oy has now tackled.

“With this project, our company has become involved in key projects in the circular economy. One of the most important influences I see is that Finnish industry will gain more productivity through automation. At the same time, we can work for our environment.” Matti Tikanmäki, CEO Probot Oy

 

From research to practice

Probot Oy integrates industrial robots, collaborative robots and mobile robots. Probot Oy also has a lot of experience in building test and production equipment, machine vision applications, robotics and logic programming. The company also supplies and develops robot logistics solutions for special needs.

“Our company was originally founded out of a need to act as a link between academic research and the practical industry. Our background provides an excellent starting point for this project.” Matti Tikanmäki, CEO Probot Oy.

The project has progressed at this stage from mapping production needs to selecting technologies. A demo of machine vision based separation is currently being built. The progress of the project can be followed through Probot Oy’s website www.probot.fi and the TRINITY project’s own website https://trinityrobotics.eu/.

 

Additional information:

TRINITY project:

The main objective of the TRINITY project is to improve the agility and innovation capacity of manufacturing companies in Europe by creating a network of multidisciplinary and synergistic local digital innovation hubs consisting of research centers, companies and university clusters. The project encourages companies to take advantage of new digital technologies and robotics. The TRINITY project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program.

https://trinityrobotics.eu/about/

https://www.tuni.fi/sites/default/files/media/file/trinity-esite-suomi.pdf

AkkuSer Oy:

https://www.akkuser.fi/

Battery sales and recycling volumes in the EU:

https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Waste_statistics_-_recycling_of_batteries_and_accumulators#Recycling_of_batteries_and_accumulators