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CORE – a student team from the Eindhoven University of Technology– won the 2022 edition of the Rabo Sustainable Innovation Award. The organization developed a way to safely recycle batteries without any risk of fire. 

The Rabo Sustainable Innovation Award is Rabobank’s prize for innovative solutions. A total of 12 ideas made it to the final, divided into four categories: food transition, vital communities and healthcare, circular entrepreneurship, and energy transition. The Eindhoven group was shortlisted as one of the circular entrepreneurship concepts. Winners receive €20,000 to further develop their concept and get a chance to participate in an accelerator program run by Yes!Delft.   

CORE Titan is a fully functioning shredder that chops up batteries in saltwater. Any risk of fire is prevented this way. The hazardous substances inside power cells are the reason behind waste fires, which release those chemicals that people can inhale. As the amount of batteries increases, risk-free methods to process them are increasingly needed. 

“I can’t believe we made it!” the slightly overcome by emotion Dirk van Meer (CEO of CORE) told Innovation Origins. “This prize is one of the best places in the Netherlands to showcase an innovative idea, and we won. It’s a huge achievement for a student team. We competed against large companies with much bigger budgets that can test their technologies in larger-sized facilities than ours.” 

The team wants to build not only a shredder, but also a factory where new products can be safely made out of ash. To this end, they previously unveiled a smelting furnace that showed how new objects can be made from waste. 

Doing it for a good cause

MaGieCreations and OneThird were CORE’s competitors in the circular entrepreneurship category. According to van Meer, being a student team was key to winning the award. 

“The fact that we are doing this purely for the impact it can have on the planet. That’s what the jury also found. We’re addressing a major issue, not just for the sake of making a profit.”

Further innovation

There’s no time to rest on our laurels for CORE. “On the 8th and on the 9th of June we will be presenting our new project, Temnos. It involves detecting batteries in electronic devices with the help of AI. We will also be scaling Titan up next year,” Van Meer says. 

CORE’s CEO has a word of advice for future innovators working on their ideas “Surround yourself with all the market parties that are involved. Understanding the market we wanted to operate in is also one of the keys to our success here.”