2017/7 design magazine

Raak geinspireerd door de laatste innovaties, zoals recycling van li-ion batterijen, desert twins, ujet scooters, rubber algen.

Massive growth of li-ion battery use


Unfortunately often recycling of li-ion batteries means creating low-grade additives for construction materials, incineration or landfill. While we all have li-ion batteries in our phones, laptops or power tools. A new pilot plant shows an ecological recycling process with a material recycling rate of at least 75%.


Lithium type of batteries have great specifications: a charge cycle with 90% efficiency, 2 – 3 times longer lifespan then lead acid batteries and a much better energy density. They are widely used in smartphones, electric bikes, electric vehicles, hybrid cars, power tools and many other applications where weight is an issue and a lot of power is needed.


Complicated recycling
The sad thing is that the more common disposal method for lithium ion batteries is still incineration or landfill. While there are many highly volatile compounds in li-ion electrolytes, with risks for skin contact, lung irritants and airborne toxins and hazards. Older lead-acid batteries reach a percentage of 96% material re-use, with 100% of the lead reuse, to make new batteries. So, what is the problem with li-ion recycling?


In case li-ion batteries are recycled, then the process focuses on the recovery of the most valuable materials nickel and cobalt. Next to the high commodity prices for these materials, future shortage is expected due to the increasing production of lithium-ion batteries, especially because of electric vehicles. Although the raw material costs of lithium are lower than those of nickel and cobalt, its future recovery is seen as crucial by some researchers.


Recycling processes for li-ion batteries are a combination of different complicated operations: deactivation, pyrometallurgical, mechanical, and hydrometallurgical treatment. These processes have distinct disadvantages such as high energy input for pyrometallurgical treatment, the lack of lithium recovery, high output of liquid hazardous waste for wet crushing, and low material recycling rates.


Recently, the German LithoRec II pilot plant proved that a material recovery of 75% and more is possible on a recycling basis from lithium-ion batteries. This is much better than state of the art. Combining different process steps like discharging, dismantling, shredding, sifting and air-jet separation helped to reach the goal: proving that lithium-ion batteries can be recycled better.


EV battery systems
In a couple of years most likely a massive roll-out of electric vehicles will take place, mostly equiped with lithium type of batteries. The contents of an electric vehicle battery system with average weight consists of 3.5 kg of lithium, 10.9 kg of nickel, 10.9 kg of cobalt, and 9.8 kg of manganese. These high quantities emphasize the necessity for recycling of these materials.


Solid state future
Potentially solid-state batteries could be even a better solution: batteries that have both solid electrodes and solid electrolytes, so no more liquids inside. Such batteries are easy to miniaturize and there is no problem with electrolyte leakage. They tend to have very long shelf lives, and usually do not have any abrupt changes in performance with temperature, such as might be associated with electrolyte freezing or boiling.

The bad news is that they are still extremely expensive, but large companies like Samsung are working on new methods for mass production. And there seem to be good possibilities for complete recycling of these types of batteries.


Desert Twins

The Desert Twins harvester from Dutch company SunGlacier can collect water in the hottest and driest of environments. Hot deserts seem dry, but they still contain a lot of water in the air, up to five times more than in the Netherlands. It’s mostly because of the high temperatures and it doesn’t rain. The relative humidity is low, but the absolute humidity can be very high. They system works autonomous on solar power.


UJET Vehicles

Not a scooter, not a bike. But a new mobility, new technology, new design, new connectivity. UJET aims at reinventing, producing and commercialising personal e-mobility solutions, that empower the urban community with smart technology for more sustainable cities.


Rubber bladeren

Tiny, artificial algae are being deployed in a first effort to restore reefs in the Mediterranean Sea. They look like coralline algae, which have a similar ecological function to corals: forming reefs using calcium carbonate structures that create diverse and complex environments.

The team developed small plastic structures to mimic the natural coralline algae Ellisolandia elongata and the way it moves. Ninety synthetic mini reefs, each with twenty fronds made of a highly elastic silicone elastomer, are anchored in clear resin.



Alskar Design supports not only Mercy Shipsbut also now the organisation Noordje.. At Noordjes Schrijflab, additional support is given to pupils in the field of language development and development of their creativity with daily programming after school time.

Children in the age of 6-13 years can also participate in the Noordjes Kunstacademie learning to developed their creativity learning new different techniques.


Poet on the Shore

Poet on the Shore is an AI-empowered autonomous robot that roams on the beach. It enjoys watching the sea, listening to the sound of waves lapping on the beach, the murmurs of the winds, children’s conversing, and the incessant din of seabirds. Most of the time, it roams alone to listen and feel. Sometimes, it writes verses into the sand, and watches the waves wash them away.

Watch the video


VES-4® device

Mr Mouad Mkamel and his team of researchers from Ben M’sik Hassan II University, Morocco has designed a new scorpion-milking robot. Scorpion venom is used in medical applications such as immunosuppressants, anti-malarial drugs and cancer research, but the extraction process can be potentially life-threatening. “This robot makes the poison recovery fast and safe”.


Third Thumb

Dani Clode created a wearable third thumb that can help its user carry more objects, squeeze lemons or play complex chords on the guitar. The Third Thumb is a motorised, controllable extra finger, designed for anyone who wants to extend their natural abilities. Clode created the device as a way to challenge conventional ideas about prosthetics. Usually prosthetics are thought of as devices for people with disabilities.

“The origin of the word prosthesis meant to add, put onto, so not to fix or replace, but to extend” says Clode. “The Third Thumb is inspired by this word origin, exploring human augmentation and aiming to reframe prosthetics as extensions of the body.”

Watch the video



A vertical transportation concept allowing city dwellers to cycle upwards. Designed by Elena Larriba, Vycle is a pedal-powered, vertical transportation system that offers a sustainable and efficient alternative to lifts and stairs. The system is balanced with counterweights, leaving the user’s body as the only weight to overcome.

Watch the video


Multirotor vehicle

The unique actuator of this omni-directional eight-rotor vehicle gives it full force and torque authority in all three dimensions, allowing it to fly novel maneuvers. A trajectory generator was also developed for this multirotor vehicle. The trajectory generator is capable of generating approximately 500.000 trajectories per second that guide the multirotor vehicle from any initial state, i.e. position, velocity and attitude, to any desired final state in a given time.

Watch the video


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