Tuesday, 17 May 2022

    Old batteries combat energy crisis

    A Queensland social enterprise is turning electronic trash into a global treasure, repurposing old laptop batteries to create a solar-powered solution for poverty-stricken families across the world.

    It all began three-and-a-half years ago, at a start-up weekend at Substation 33 — an e-waste recycling facility in Kingston, south of Brisbane.

    Town planner Nicholas Kamols and social entrepreneur Brad Clair had never met before, but within hours the idea of PowerWells was born and their lives changed forever.

    “The task was to come up with a solution to an environmental or social problem, and one of our group members was from Indonesia,” Mr Clair said.

    “He was telling us how he used to travel from his village to the next village just to charge his phone, which was something like 250 kilometres away.

    “So, working at an e-waste recycling facility, we decided to tackle that problem using recycled laptop batteries.”

    In Australia, only 2 per cent of lithium-ion batteries are currently being recycled, which means 98 per cent potentially end up in landfill.

    “If we can use batteries that are going to end up in landfill anyway, we might as well use those to power people who don’t have electricity,” Mr Clair said.

    “We actually put a whole heap of batteries into a paint bucket and we thought that was good enough.

    “We had a solar panel that connected into it, we had three little USB outlets so you could charge your phone and then, on the inside it was full of recycled laptop batteries.”

    Ten days later, the pair boarded a plane to Indonesia with their bold idea and a determination to leave a mark on the energy-poverty crisis crippling a large percentage of Indonesia’s population.


    Queensland entrepreneurs use old laptop batteries to help combat global energy crisis among poverty-stricken families (ABC News)


    Nicholas Kamols (left) and Bradley Clair (right) have designed a world-changing product using old laptop batteries. (ABC News: Jessica Stewart)