Today, the U.S. Department of Energy announced its intent to issue a funding opportunity that will support research on the extraction and conversion of lithium from geothermal brines for use of lithium batteries in electric vehicles and clean energy storage. This investment will help advance and diversify the domestic supply of lithium hydroxide that our nation needs to meet the Biden Administration goals of a net-zero clean energy economy by 2050 and 50% electric vehicle adoption by 2030.  

Geothermal brines – a byproduct of clean, geothermal power – have become a proven, sustainable resource of critical materials, including lithium. Direct lithium extraction from geothermal brines provides an opportunity to manufacture battery-grade lithium hydroxide from domestic sources in a safe and sustainable way.

In August of 2022, the Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO) launched a Lithium StoryMap  that focuses on how geothermal energy production can help support domestic lithium extraction. The Lithium StoryMap provides a high-level overview of the relationships between geothermal energy, lithium, and the Salton Sea area of California, and how geothermal energy can play a critical role clean energy economy.

This potential funding opportunity will spur the development of domestic lithium supply and refinement capacity to secure America’s clean energy supply chains and increase U.S. manufacturing competitiveness abroad. It is anticipated that the FOA may include the following Areas of Interest:

  • Field Validation of Lithium Hydroxide Production from Geothermal Brines
  • Applied Research & Development for Direct Lithium Extraction from Geothermal Brines

The notice of intent (NOI) includes a Teaming Partner List to help identify a broad and inclusive range of interested individuals and organizations, as well as potential areas of interest for the funding opportunity.

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) plans to issue the FOA via EERE Exchange in the fall of 2022. The funding opportunity is expected to include approximately $12 million in federal funding. The estimated period of performance for the award will be three years.

This upcoming funding opportunity will be supported through EERE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) and Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO).