How it started

When some of the world’s largest mining corporations, the heart of battery metal sourcing, approached us to address these challenges, we were eager to step in. The project’s focus on sustainability and leveraging Web3 technologies resonated with us. The corporations were looking for a solution that ensured data immutability and eliminated central control. They wanted a fair, transparent, and shared system.

Leveraging industry wisdom to drive collaborative innovation

Two major challenges lay before us. The first was accountability — ensuring the platform could reliably prove material provenance and supply chain participation. The second was confidentiality — the solution required extensive data from companies, some of which is commercially sensitive or constituted as trade secrets.

We knew our clients were the domain experts, so we adopted a truly collaborative approach. Through multiple conceptual iterations and continuous learning from testing and piloting, we developed a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Blockchain technology was essential in addressing the core challenges, due to its inherent properties of immutability, decentralisation, and its ability to provide necessary proofs without sharing actual confidential data.

I am proud to support Re|Source in developing a technology solution to assure traceability in the entire battery industry. For many years, Umicore has been a pioneer in promoting a sustainable value chain by only offering battery materials of a certified and ethical origin.

Marc Grynberg

CEO of Umicore

Digging deeper into the solution

In terms of accountability, we designed a system that tracks the physical material (cobalt) and links it with a digital twin, an NFT that represents a batch of material. The NFT is only transferred when the physical material moves from supplier to customer, creating a verifiable and immutable trace from origin to battery producer. This approach provides proof of provenance tied to the actual physical material rather than just paperwork.

Addressing confidentiality, we store only auditable zero-knowledge proofs on a public blockchain, linking to off-chain data. Companies can only access data from another company if they hold an NFT representing material once held by that other company. In addition, companies can choose which of their customers they wish to share their sustainability data with. Battery producers also have the option to request sustainability data retroactively from their supply chain participants.

From traceability to product passports

Due to its high quality and trusted data, Re|Source is now uniquely positioned to issue battery passports. In a significant milestone, we issued one of the world’s first battery passports for Tesla and Audi this year in collaboration with the Global Battery Alliance and RCS Global. The passport provides proof of provenance and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) insights, and is accessible to the public. You can read more about this here.