18-Oct-2022 - Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf e. V.

Innovative graphite recycling awarded as top European innovation

Anna Vanderbruggen receives the EIT CHANGE Award for her revolutionary graphite extraction method which could decrease the environmental footprint of battery production

Each year, the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) celebrates the entrepreneurial and societal achievements of its innovators. They are honored with the EIT Awards in four categories: CHANGE, Innovators, Venture and Women Leadership. Anna Vanderbruggen received the CHANGE Award for her innovative method on graphite recycling from used lithium-ion batteries. That´s also the topic of her PhD thesis she is working on at the Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology (HIF), an institute of the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR).

Vanderbruggen developed a revolutionary new way to extract valuable graphite from used lithium-ion batteries. Her method, the first of its kind, separates the fine powder from crushed lithium-ion batteries into two valuable products instead of one. This process enables the efficient and highly selective recycling of both graphite and metals from used lithium-ion batteries. “My approach uses the method of froth flotation, which is proven in the raw materials industry, to recycle graphite. Froth flotation is an established and efficient process for separating valuable minerals from waste rock for particle sizes of about 10 to 200 micrometer. Graphite usually represents 15% - 25% of the battery’s weight.  By recovering the graphite in addition to the 50% of metals which is already possible – recyclers can meet the EU's 70% materials recycling requirement, which will apply from 2030 onwards,” Vanderbruggen explains.

The objective is a truly circular battery supply chain, one that will help decrease the environmental footprint of battery production and the reliance on raw materials imports from outside the EU. Beside her work for the HIF Anna is part of the EIT RawMaterials-supported start-up Erzlabor, which characterizes materials and analyzes complex resources. “This EIT competition was an amazing experience! It was an opportunity to promote my research to another level and also to meet great people!“, Vanderbruggen says delighted. The award is also very important for the HZDR, because "Anna Vanderbruggen's success demonstrates the topicality of the research conducted at the HZDR. On the other hand, it stands for the enormous potential of young researchers. Her award makes us proud and we congratulate wholeheartedly," says Prof. Sebastian M. Schmidt, Scientific Director of the HZDR.

The CHANGE Award acknowledges top graduates from EIT entrepreneurial education programmes. As Anna is a graduate from the EIT Emerald master´s program she was nominated for the award by EIT RawMaterials. “It is exactly this level of innovation that will enable Europe to achieve the goals of the green transition and we are so proud to have supported her journey”, says Bernd Schäfer, CEO and Managing Director at EIT RawMaterials. By highlighting ground-breaking innovations, the annual EIT Awards showcase how young talents addressing some of Europe's biggest challenges.

Facts, background information, dossiers
More about HZDR
  • News

    Water that simply will not freeze

    Water that simply will not freeze, no matter how cold it gets – a research group involving the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) has discovered a quantum state that could be described in this way. Experts from the Institute of Solid State Physics at the University of Tokyo in Japa ... more

    The color play of mineral resources

    Dr. René Booysen researches the exploration of mineral deposits. At the Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology (HIF), belonging to the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR), she develops sensor-based exploration techniques to identify resources in a non-invasive way. Eac ... more

    Metamaterial for the terahertz age

    An international research team, comprising scientists from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR), the Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology and JMU Würzburg, has found a way of generating terahertz radiation by frequency conversion much more efficient than with previ ... more

  • Research Institutes

    Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf e. V.

    The Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) conducts research in the sectors energy, health, and matter. It focuses its research on the following topics: • How can energy and resources be used efficiently, safely, and sustainably? • How can malignant tumors be ... more