Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the 15 winners of Phase 1 of the Battery Recycling Prize, a prize that aims to reclaim and recycle critical materials (e.g., cobalt and lithium) from lithium-based battery technology. For a total of $1 million in prizes, these projects focus on cost-effective recycling processes to recover as much economic value as possible from spent lithium-ion batteries. Lithium-ion batteries power our daily lives, from consumer electronics to electric vehicles, but only five percent of spent lithium-ion batteries in the United States are recycled.
"This prize encourages American entrepreneurs, like these prize winners, to find innovative solutions to collecting, storing, and transporting discarded lithium-ion batteries for eventual recycling," said Daniel R Simmons, DOE’s Assistant Secretary for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. "The goal of these efforts is to develop technologies to profitably capture 90% of all lithium based battery technologies in the United States and recover 90% of the key materials from the collected batteries. These efforts will reduce our dependence on foreign sources of critical materials, strengthening America’s economic growth and energy security."
As demand for consumer products – such as electric vehicles, cell phones, and tablets – rises, the recovery and reuse of critical materials from spent and discarded lithium-ion batteries will be an essential component of any strategy to reduce product costs and reliance on foreign sources.
The Phase 1 winners will each receive $67,000.
Separation & Sorting:
Safe Storage & Transport:
Other Innovation Ideas:
The Energy Department is leading the charge in reducing U.S. dependence on cobalt and lithium (two critical materials used in lithium-ion battery manufacturing) by reducing the amount of these materials needed for battery production and recycling the materials that are already in use. The Department’s work is described in the Research Plan to Reduce, Recycle, and Recover Critical Materials in Lithium-ion Batteries. The President’s Executive Order 13817 identifies the need for “developing critical minerals recycling and reprocessing technologies” as part of a broader strategy to “ensure secure and reliable supplies of critical minerals.”
The $5.5-million, three-phased Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize was announced by Secretary of Energy Rick Perry in January 2019. The prize is sponsored by the Vehicle Technologies Office and the Advanced Manufacturing Office. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) serves as the administrator of the Prize. To learn more about the Battery Recycling Prize, please visit AmericanMadeChallenges.org/BatteryRecycling.