Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the four winners of Phase III of the Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize, a multiphase competition that incentivized American entrepreneurs to develop and demonstrate processes that, when scaled, have the potential to profitably capture 90% of all discarded or spent lithium-based batteries in the United States for eventual recovery and reintroduction of key materials into the U.S. supply chain. 

Li Industries of Blacksburg, VA, Renewance of Chicago, IL, Smartville of San Diego, CA, and Titan Advanced Energy Solutions of Sommerville, MA, were named as the four Phase III winners and will share the $2 million prize evenly. Over its three phases, the competition awarded $5.5 million to 15 teams around the country.  

As demand for consumer products such as electric vehicles, cell phones, and tablets rises, the recycling of critical materials from spent and discarded lithium-ion batteries will be essential to reducing product costs and America’s reliance on foreign component sources.  

"The prize model catalyzes research and development and empowers American ingenuity,” said U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy David Turk. “Public partnerships like the Battery Recycling Prize are critical to enhancing our national leadership in the energy marketplace.” 

Over three progressive phases, each team conceived a solution to collect, sort, store and transport spent lithium batteries to recyclers; developed a prototype; and then demonstrated its viability. The final phase, Pilot Validation, challenged teams to implement a pilot validation of the end-to-end solution and gather data to support the solution’s projected impact. The prize catalyzed approximately $4.3 million in private sector investment for the Phase III participating teams, many of which chose to work directly with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratories to access tools and expertise to advance their concepts.  

The next iteration of the Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize will be made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), which directs more than $7 billion to strengthen the U.S. battery supply chain. The work under BIL will include producing and recycling critical minerals without new extraction or mining, sourcing materials for domestic manufacturing, and continuing the Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize competition (stay tuned for more information). 

The Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize was launched in January 2019 as a partnership between DOE’s Vehicle Technologies Office and Advanced Manufacturing Office along with National Renewable Energy Laboratory. To learn more about the  Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize, please visit  the prize website.