Dr Hekselman has been recognised in the 2023 Women in Innovation Awards, a competition organised by Innovate UK.
Innovate UK launched Women in Innovation in 2016, after research revealed that just 1 in 7 applications for Innovate UK support came from women. £250 billion of new value could be added to the UK economy if women started and scaled new businesses at the same rate as men.
Innovate UK’s Women in Innovation Awards works to empower 50 pioneering women to scale their innovative businesses. Now in its sixth year, the competition drew a record number of 920 applications from women business leaders.
From Aberdeen to Portsmouth and Belfast to Cambridge, this year’s winners of Innovate UK’s Women in Innovation Awards are developing novel solutions to major social, environmental and economic challenges. Each winner will benefit from a £50,000 grant, one-to-one business coaching, networking, role modelling, and training opportunities.
'A visionary battery scientist and entrepreneur'
Recycling lead-acid batteries is essential but inefficient and energy-intensive. Lead-acid batteries are found in all cars, including electric vehicles. Recycling currently requires smelting at 1,000°C, which produces significant carbon dioxide emissions. Informal lead recycling in some developing regions can also be extremely polluting, with vulnerable communities often affected by lead poisoning and other serious health problems.
Dr Hekselman, a visiting researcher in the Department of Materials, co-leads new start-up Solveteq with Professor David Payne. Her passion for the environment and her drive to bring about positive change led her to co-create Solveteq, to bring a sustainable approach to battery recycling technologies.
Solveteq’s patent-protected technology uses safe and readily-available materials to recycle batteries at low temperatures. Their solvent technology offers battery recyclers a more reliable and sustainable parallel pathway which is not impacted by higher energy costs. This innovative approach can reduce CO2 emissions by up to 90% and minimise all other environmental pollutants, reducing environmental compliance costs.
She comments: “We are not attempting to redesign the entire recycling process but rather address its most economically and environmentally challenging step – removing the lead from lead-acid batteries and overcoming the informal recycling practices that result in lead pollution. This issue is particularly relevant in water sources and communities within low and middle-income countries (LMICs).”
This news story was adapted from a press release by Innovate UK.
Find out more on the Innovate UK website.
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Department of Materials