The European Commission has highlighted EIT RawMaterial’s achievements in leading the digital and green transition at the latest European Innovation Conference.
At the same event, Anna Vanderbruggen – nominated by EIT— won the prestigious EIT Change Award for her pioneering work on graphite recycling. Her solution will aid the transition to green energy, by allowing European recyclers to recover tonnes of graphite needed for lithium-ion batteries to power renewable energy technologies across the continent.
Bernd Schäfer, CEO and Managing Director of EIT RawMaterials, said: ‘’A huge congratulations to Anna Vanderbruggen, our finalist from EIT RawMaterials, on winning the EIT Change Award for her groundbreaking graphite recycling solution. 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.’’
Progressing toward a green economy
Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President of the European Commission for Interinstitutional Relations, addressed the EIT Summit, organised by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), in Brussels on 11 October. He said the energy crisis, along with the illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine, had underlined the urgency of delivering the European Green Deal.
He emphasised EIT’s progress in propelling the green transition, while securing Europe’s own strategic autonomy. He said: “With EIT RawMaterials in the lead, we are developing the European Raw Materials Alliance to secure access to raw materials for our sustainable and circular economy. The Alliance’s efforts are already showing positive results, with the first pipeline of projects under preparation.’’
Antoaneta Angelova-Krasteva, Director for Innovation, Digital Education, and International Cooperation, also singled out EIT RawMaterials for their action on key priority areas related to the EU’s ambitions on the digital and green transition: “We are happy to see that EIT’s Knowledge Innovation Communities are delivering on priority policy areas – such as batteries and raw materials.’’
The EIT Change Award: For pioneers of the green energy transition
The EIT Summit was also a celebration of the 2022 EIT Awards. The award recognised the entire EIT innovation pipeline, from students to entrepreneurs, lab to market, and ideas to solutions for Europe.
Anna Vanderbruggen, the EIT nominee and graduate of EIT RawMaterials’ Emerald Masters Programme, was named as the award winner.
She was given the award due to being the first scientist to solve the issue of recycling high-quality graphite from used lithium-ion batteries. Moreover, her method has also allowed the simultaneous recycling of valuable metals, such as cobalt, nickel, and lithium. Vanderbruggen’s solution enables European recyclers to recover tonnes of graphite needed for lithium-ion batteries; thus, powering the green energy transition in Europe.
Graphite is a critical raw material for Europe’s key industrial ecosystems, making up 15-25% of lithium-ion batteries. Europe currently imports 98% of the graphite it needs, while having no recycling process for the graphite contained in used batteries.
This new solution pioneers the switch to green energy, as it will help to supply the growing demand for batteries, while also helping towards reducing dependency on China for imported graphite.