Rechargeable batteries made from waste

The founder and CTO of SorbiForce tells Interesting Engineering how his company made a rechargeable battery from agricultural and plastic waste.
Ameya Paleja
Artist's illustration of a battery pack made from recyclable materials
Illustration of a battery pack made from recyclable materials


  • Most batteries are currently made using rare earth metals like lithium.
  • These are in limited supply and mining them generally involves serious environmental degradation.
  • One company has come up with a possible solution in batteries made from waste materials.

Imagine a world where the battery of your smartphone or laptop does not contain any mined elements. What if we told you that the battery was also providing a way to use waste from desalination plants? What if, once its life was completed, the battery components could be removed and used as a fertilizer instead of becoming hazardous waste? You would be relieved, right?

Well, such a battery actually already exists and is being built by SorbiForce. Established in 2017, SorbiForce is registered in Delaware and has already tested a 2kWh battery that can power household appliances. The company is now aiming for larger solutions that can capture renewable energy from solar and wind plants.

Interesting Engineering spoke to Serhii Kaminskyi, the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at SorbiForce, who has an extensive background in startups in the renewable energy space.

Rechargeable batteries made from waste
Serhii Kaminskyi, CTO of SorbiForce

Where did the idea for a fully organic, no-metal battery come from?

I believe that batteries and energy storages are the key elements in the energy of the future. The lack of reliable, cheap, and environmentally friendly batteries is a big obstacle to the further development of green energy.

The idea for a fully organic, no-metal battery originated from our desire to develop a sustainable and environmentally friendly energy storage solution. We saw the need for a battery technology that could reduce reliance on scarce and environmentally damaging resources, such as metals while offering high performance and efficiency.

What is electrosorption and how does the battery use this?

Our battery incorporates an ultra-porous carbon material, which allows for the adsorption and absorption of ions throughout the entire volume of the pores, not just on the surface. 

The unique structure of our carbon material maximizes the storage capacity and enhances the overall efficiency of our battery's electrochemical reactions. By utilizing the full volume of the pores, we optimize the energy storage capabilities of our battery and enable high-performance operation.

Rechargeable batteries made from waste
A prototype of the SorbiForce battery pack.

Why hasn't someone come up with such a battery before?

Our company benefits from a highly skilled team of scientists, including individuals with extensive experience dating back to the Soviet Union era. Ukraine, being a scientific hub during the Soviet Union, has provided us with a wealth of knowledge and expertise.

Notably, our team includes the father of the first European lithium-ion battery, who has made significant contributions to the field.

In addition, we have access to undisclosed technologies that offer us a competitive advantage and further differentiate our battery technology from others in the market. These technologies enable us to push the boundaries of innovation and deliver cutting-edge solutions.

The battery is made using recycled materials. What are these materials and how are they used?

Our battery is not only environmentally friendly in terms of its operation but it is also made from renewable raw materials. We utilize various types of waste as the raw materials for our batteries, including agricultural waste, plastic waste, and waste from desalination factories.

By repurposing these waste materials, we contribute to the reduction of environmental pollution and promote a circular economy. As we scale up production, we not only provide a sustainable energy storage solution but also help mitigate waste by transforming it into valuable and useful products.

What challenges are you facing?

Our battery technology is designed to address various challenges in the electric grid and ensure reliable and efficient operation. We specialize in intraday operations, particularly in peak shifting, frequency response, and disturbance recovery.

With our unique combination of supercapacitor and battery processes, we have the versatility to tackle a wide range of grid issues. One of our advantages is the charge time. The Sorbiforce battery can be charged as fast as 4 minutes or even less. The limit to the speed of charge depends mainly on the electrical power systems and equipment. This is because we have a few processes in our battery.

First, the supercapacitor process or DEL Double electrical layers is ultra-fast. The second process is the Faraday process which is more common to typical batteries. Another one is electrosorption, which is a specific process that is a physical process and combines the advantages of both processes mentioned above.

Our nominal time of charge is 4 hours and 4 hours for discharge. Because we are focused on intraday and industrial batteries they need 4 hours for charge and 4 hours for discharge.  We have to scale batteries to the market.

Our system can provide rapid support for frequency stabilization while also serving as a long-duration energy storage solution. Whether it's maintaining grid stability during peak demand or providing backup power during disturbances, our battery technology is engineered to meet the dynamic needs of the electric grid.

Our biggest current challenge is scaling to meet the needs of industrial applications. We see this as a great challenge to have and are excited and prepared to take it on

The battery packs appear to be for large-scale applications. Are EVs, e-trucks, and eVTOLs also on your radar?

While our battery packs are suitable for large-scale applications, we are also actively exploring the potential for electric vehicles (EVs), e-trucks, and electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing aircraft (eVTOLs).

We believe our technology holds great promise for these sectors, and we are actively collaborating with industry partners to advance these applications. We have more than 10 types of batteries in our portfolio. 

Few of them are solid states with high energy density. But now we are focused on big energy storage for solar and wind power plants, for EV charging stations. Maybe city buses, trains, e-boats, etc.

Rechargeable batteries made from waste
A large scale battery pack prototype.

Who are the current customers for the battery and what is the planned manufacturing capacity?

Currently, we are in discussions with potential customers and partners for various applications of our battery technology. As for planned manufacturing capacity, we are evaluating different production strategies and scaling plans to meet the growing demand. Our focus is on establishing strategic partnerships and securing initial commercial contracts to drive manufacturing capacity.

We are focused on big energy storage for solar and wind power plants, for EV charging stations. Maybe city buses, trains, e-boats, etc. Now our aim is to start 10 MWh per year as pilot production. Our plan is to get 100MWh per year in 2025.

Cost-wise, how does the battery compare to Lithium-ion batteries?

In terms of cost, our goal is to achieve a remarkably low price of $25 per kWh of batteries, which is significantly lower than existing battery technologies. By achieving this cost target, we aim to position ourselves ten years ahead of the competition. 

Moreover, our use of local and renewable raw materials allows us to mitigate the impact of fluctuating metal prices, ensuring stability in the cost of production. With our batteries being produced locally, we have the potential to create a 100% domestic product for many regions across the United States, enhancing energy independence and reducing reliance on imports.

Once the battery reaches the end of its life, how will it be disposed of?

Sustainability is a fundamental aspect of our business, and we take pride in our zero-waste recycling process for our batteries. At the end of their life cycle, our batteries undergo a specialized recycling procedure where every component and material is carefully extracted and reused. 

Through our innovative recycling technology, we eliminate any waste generated during the process, ensuring that all materials are repurposed effectively. This commitment to zero waste not only minimizes environmental impact but also contributes to the circular economy by maximizing resource efficiency.

How long before we see the technology in the market?

The timeline for bringing our technology to the market depends on various factors, including manufacturing readiness, commercial partnerships, and regulatory compliance.

We are working diligently to overcome current hurdles, which primarily involve optimizing our manufacturing processes, securing necessary certifications, and scaling up production capacity. While we cannot provide an exact timeline, we are focused on achieving market entry as efficiently and effectively as possible.

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