University of Houston student team REEcycle won the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition regional prize at the California Institute of Technology’s First Look West Competition (Caltech FLoW) on May 7. After competing against its peers, REEcycle took home $100,000 and advances to the national competition.

As part of Caltech FLoW, 15 commercial-ready teams showcased high-impact clean energy technologies such as energy-efficient wastewater treatments, redox flow batteries, polymer additives for the coatings market, and novel window technologies. Teams pitched business plans for their technologies in front of a distinguished panel of judges from the finance and energy industries.

REEcycle emerged as the first place winner for their technology that reclaims rare earth elements from magnets in electronics, creating a sustainable supply of critical components. Rare earth elements are critical to manufacturing clean energy technologies, including wind turbines, energy-efficient lights, thin-film solar cells, and motors and batteries for electric vehicles. The company acquires used electronics from recyclers and extracts REEs using its patented solvent combined with low temperatures. REEcycle claims that its process is much less hazardous and significantly less expensive than current reclamation methods.

After winning at Caltech FLoW, REEcycle is invited to compete at the third annual DOE National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition in Washington, D.C. on June 11 and 12.

The DOE National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition promotes entrepreneurship in clean energy technologies that boost American competitiveness, bring cutting-edge clean energy solutions to the market, and strengthen our economic prosperity. Previous competitors have gone on to launch 57 start-ups, create 120 jobs, and raise more than $26 million in follow-on funding.  

Check EERE Blog for updates on the regional contests and to learn more about the DOE National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition.


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Jennifer Garson
Jennifer is the Director of the Water Power Technologies Office, as well as a Senior Advisor and Acting Program Manager for Outreach, Engagement and Analysis in the Water Power Technologies Office at the U.S. Department of Energy, where she supports research and development in hydropower and marine renewable energy.
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