Today the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced awards for eight new designs for microbatteries, through its Microbattery Design Prize. This prize aims to accelerate the commercialization of these innovative microbattery designs, along with their integration into the existing technologies needed for clean energy manufacturing. In addition to automatically advancing to phase two of this prize, each selected project will receive an award consisting of $75,000 in a cash prize along with performance and safety testing services with DOE National Laboratories. 

Currently, the microbattery market is unable to leverage many of the existing manufacturing processes of the larger battery supply chain ecosystem, due to the requirements associated with their small size. This presents a major barrier to the development and commercialization of new microbattery chemistries and designs, along with an opportunity to increase domestic production and secure supply chains.  

Illustration of microbattery and magnifying glass

The prize aims to accelerate the commercialization of innovative microbattery designs, along with their integration into the existing technologies needed for clean energy manufacturing.

“From powering sensor systems for improved smart manufacturing processes to running sensors for grid monitoring, microbatteries are becoming more and more crucial for clean energy manufacturing scale-up and smart technology innovation,” said Jeff Marootian, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “As our nation rapidly transitions to a clean energy future, the ability for us to domestically produce a wide range of microbatteries is going to be hugely important for achieving the Biden-Harris Administration’s clean energy goals of achieving 100% clean electricity by 2035 and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.” 

The eight selected projects were chosen as winners of the first phase of this two-phase Microbattery Design Prize. In this first ‘Ideas’ phase, competitors developed and submitted technical designs and schematics for microbatteries that serve a specific application (like a grid monitoring devices) and meet certain performance goals (like a specific storage capacity, cycle lifetime, safety, or recyclability) that go beyond what is commercially available today.  

Learn more about the selected projects here. 

During the second ‘testing’ phase, these eight competing teams will create prototypes that will be submitted to DOE national energy laboratories for performance and safety testing. Phase two of this competition is now open and the rules for this phase of the competition can be found here.  

Competitors will now work to determine potential cost to manufacture their designs at scale. By the end of this phase two, participants will develop a realistic plan to commercialize and manufacture their technology. Ultimately, one project will be chosen as the final winner of this prize and will receive $300,000 in prize money and up to 2 runners up will receive $175,000 each in cash.  

The Microbattery Design Prize is led by DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Technologies Office and managed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Visit the Microbattery Design Prize page on the American-Made Challenges website for more information.

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