The Commission of the European Union (EU) has begun funding research to help reduce the risk of fires caused by batteries at e-waste recycling facilities.
The Commission’s Grinner project is funding multiple efforts to bring to market an autonomous AI-enabled robotic sorting system to detect and remove batteries from the waste processing stream before they are crushed and consolidated with other e-waste. The sorting system will combine the use of high-speed x-ray detectors and machine learning (ML)-enabled software to identify battery waste that can then be removed by vision-based pick-and-place robots.
The Commission has committed more than 2 million euros to fund the Grinner project, with an additional 500,000 euros coming from other sources.
E-waste fires present a major hazard throughout the EU and around the world. In addition to their potential to release toxic chemicals and endanger human lives, e-waste fires can shut down critical e-waste processing activities and require significant investments to rebuild.