Substation33: A Plethora Of Innovation With Reused Batteries — Part 1

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Substation33 specializes in electronic waste collection and processing, diverting e-waste from landfills. It offers an inclusive space where people of all backgrounds can learn new skills and transition to employment. It has a team of technical specialists who are developing and commercializing innovative products and services.

Manager Tony Sharp tells me Substation33 is the training arm for NGO YFS. They now have 14 paid workers who coach, train, and mentor 600 volunteers from a range of demographics who perform 80,000 hours of work per year. They place 100 people a year into regular jobs ranging from manual labor to hospitality to a high end engineer.

By all measures, Substation33 is a success story. I was honored to be a guest at the facility and be shown around the many projects it is involved it. A reused solar panel lists these projects, and some will warrant an article of their own.

Photo by David Waterworth

Started as a recycling center, it has grown into an innovation hub centered around testing and reusing batteries retrieved from discarded laptops and other e-waste.

Photo by David Waterworth

Vertical Garden & Fish Tank 

Just to the left as you enter the facility, solar panels have been put together to form a verandah. Plant troughs made from light-fitting covers grow flowers and herbs. The herbs are grown and used in house. The flowers brighten a bland, disused wall. Water is pumped up to the garden using solar panels and reused batteries from the rainwater tank below. It contains 6 jade perch. Their waste is used to fertilize the garden.

This is a pilot project. While waiting for demand, it is operating as a tester for water quality monitors. Each monitor is tested for a week. The volume of plants needed to filter 400 L of water is huge, so they have to use supplementary filtering. The pump only runs for 6 mins. This is enough for plants, but not enough for filtering. They have to keep an eye on the water quality for the fish. 

Photo by David Waterworth


These are made from scrap, reused batteries, and use reclaimed solar panels as a power source. These are currently being trialed at a prawn farm in conjunction with Griffith University with a research grant from Australian Research Council. They are equipped with sensors to measure salinity, pH, temperature, and dissolved oxygen.

Corporate Workshops

Corporate Workshops create stronger teams, as they practice disassembly and experience recycling. Recently, Verity Consulting participated.  

From their Facebook page: “the Verity Partners built 4 Powerwells Stations (units made of recycled e-waste) to send over to families in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia Our completed units will go on provide power to families for over 5 years, provide 176,000 hours of light, 28,000 mobile charges, and recycle 144 battery cells and 12 computer monitors.”

Substation33 is looking for corporate sponsors who can get their logo printed on the devices.

There are more stories to tell and I look forward to sharing them with you. 

All photos by David Waterworth

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David Waterworth

David Waterworth is a retired teacher who divides his time between looking after his grandchildren and trying to make sure they have a planet to live on. He is long on Tesla [NASDAQ:TSLA].

David Waterworth has 738 posts and counting. See all posts by David Waterworth