Fighting battery fires in waste sorting

Published: 22 August 2023

Text: Anne-Marie Korseberg Stokke

Photo: Anne-Marie Korseberg Stokke

"We spoke with an experienced entrepreneur in the USA earlier this year, and he said, 'Have fun and get shit done!' That's something we try to remember."


Who: Synne Sauar

What: CEO & Co-Founder

Where: Li-Tech

What is Li-Tech, and what problem are you aiming to solve?

Half of all waste facilities experience fires on a weekly or daily basis due to lithium-batteries exploding in the waste stream. This is a problem we want to prevent. Li-Tech is developing a system that detects incorrectly sorted batteries using a sensor placed under the conveyor belt. The sensor emits a magnetic signal and receives information about the material composition in return. Machine learning determines whether it's a battery or not, and the battery can be sorted out. This makes waste sorting safer and, importantly, enables the reuse of materials in the battery.

Why did you choose to work in a startup?

My co-founder, Ida Marie Pedersen, and I met during our studies in entrepreneurship and innovation. We were both interested in the circular economy and wanted to work on something related to preserving and utilizing resources within the cycle. We each had different projects in the waste industry, and after Ida’s internship at Ragn Sells, we learned that there was a critical need for battery detection – to prevent fires. The problem almost came to us on a silver platter! With funding from Stud-Ent, we could spend the first year exploring the problem. Li-Tech is actually my first full-time job after graduating!

When did you last think: This will never happen!

I've been thinking all along that we would figure it out, but we spent a long time determining the right direction for the technology. This is a complex problem and an advanced product that required a lot of trial and error. The first prototype we made didn't work as intended. Well, it worked, but it detected a bit more than it should have.

When did you last think: This is going to succeed!

We now have a prototype of version 2 of the sensor, which we hope to test this autumn. We are optimistic about the future now! Funding and support from Startuplab and other investors have also been crucial.

What is your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

We spoke with an experienced entrepreneur in the USA earlier this year, and he said, "Have fun and get shit done!" That's something we try to remember. We need to enjoy ourselves, but we also need to get things done. It can be confusing when there are many opinions and many paths to take, but at some point, you just have to make a decision and get things done. Don't overanalyze – you never have complete control anyway!