2021 2021: UMass Dartmouth faculty members receive MassVentures Acorn Innovation Fund grant
UMass Dartmouth faculty members receive MassVentures Acorn Innovation Fund grant

Professor Sukalyan Sengupta and Research Engineer Chen-Lu Yang awarded $15,000 for battery recycling technology

Students in the lab
Students Melody Veldorale and Dipshika Das and Professional Technician Jeffrey Beaudry conducting experiments related to the project.

MassVentures recently announced the recipients of their Acorn Innovation Fund which includes UMass Dartmouth Professor Sukalyan Sengupta (Civil & Environmental Engineering) and Research Engineer Chen-Lu Yang. The UMass Dartmouth research team received $15,000 in seed funding to help test the viability of their “Resource Recovery from Spent Lithium-Ion Batteries” technology with the potential to bring the product to market.

Demand for Lithium-ion batteries has increased exponentially, but the handling of spent Lithium-ion batteries continues to be a major challenge for environmental regulators, engineers, and scientists.

That’s where Sengupta and Chen’s technology comes in.

Their sustainable, closed-loop process recovers high-purity metal precipitates (Lithium, Cobalt, Nickel, and Manganese) from spent Lithium-ion batteries that can be reused as a raw material in the manufacture of new batteries. Recovery is achieved by sequentially and selectively applying organic ligands (molecules or atoms) to the complex metals. The organic ligands are reused over multiple cycles in a zero-waste process. This innovative project recovers the valuable metals at very high purity (>99%) which increased their yield when reused in the manufacture of new batteries.

“My research in recovering resources from waste streams and waste materials has produced novel processes for recovery of nitrogen, phosphorus, silver, and heavy metals from contaminated solutions and slurries. This award enables me to expand my research frontier in adding lithium, cobalt, and other precious metals to the collection of recovered elements,” said Professor Sukalyan Sengupta.

“The strength of the selected projects and diversity of academic researchers demonstrates that Massachusetts leads the nation in translating basic research to the market,” said Vinit Nijhawan, managing director of MassVentures in a press release.

MassVentures awarded $195,000 in see funding to faculty researchers from Boston University Medical Center, Northeastern University, Brandeis University, the University of Massachusetts, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Projects were chosen based on their technical merit, commercial viability, and project plan.