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Caithness News Bulletins October 2003

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Project aims to develop Europe's leading Li-ion battery recycling facility

AEA Technology (AEAT) announced the launch of a £2 million facility in Scotland to develop world-beating technology for the recycling of lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries. The research and development project, which will be based in Sutherland in the north of Scotland, is being assisted by Caithness and Sutherland Enterprise (CASE), part of the Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) Network. The project, which has attracted £1.06 million of assistance, is the largest-ever industrial research and development project to be assisted by the HIE Network.

Over time, AEAT expects the plant to capture a significant part of the UK and European markets for Li-ion battery recycling. The intention is to develop advanced technology which will set new world standards.

Under environmental regulations due to be introduced in 2005, battery manufacturers/equipment suppliers will be increasingly responsible for the recycling of their batteries. At present, Li-ion rechargeable batteries are shipped to France where they are incinerated and material recovery is limited.

AEAT are also in discussion with the HIE network regarding the establishment of a further research and development facility in Caithness and Sutherland for its battery systems business. This investment would enable the successful Thurso-based business to develop a whole suite of new products, allowing the business to grow significantly and create high quality technical jobs. AEA Battery Systems currently employs more than 150 people in Thurso.

Andrew McCree, Group Managing Director of AEA Technology, said:
“We believe the new recycling plant has the potential to become a strong, profitable niche business. It will be the only facility of its kind in Europe and we believe it will attract considerable interest as new environmental regulations take effect.

"Using the expertise and technical know-how of our people and the experience we have gained in developing the next generation of Li-ion batteries, we are confident that we can position AEAT and Scotland at the forefront of battery recycling.

“The creation of an increased capability in R&D will be very important in fuelling the growth of the business which I am sure will lead to the creation of many high quality jobs in this area as well as enabling more scope for local businesses to support this venture.

"I want to thank HIE and CASE for their support in bringing this project to the north of Scotland and look forward to working together as the project unfolds.”

Carroll Buxton, Chief Executive of Caithness and Sutherland Enterprise said:
“CASE are delighted to have been able to help AEAT establish this pilot project in our area. The recycling facility will build on the existing battery-related business in Caithness and also provide an environmentally sound disposal route for batteries from all over Europe.

“We look forward to working with AEAT to further develop their business in the future.”

Sandy Cumming, Chief Executive of Highlands and Islands Enterprise said:
“The HIE Network welcomes this project which has the potential to create widespread environmental benefits and which demonstrates a willingness on the behalf of AEAT to invest in research and development.”