The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will establish a Lithium Battery R&D Recycling Center and a Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize in efforts to reclaim and recycle critical materials, including cobalt and lithium, from lithium-based battery technology used in consumer electronics, defense, energy storage and transportation applications. The federal agency announced the center and prize Thursday (Jan. 17) at the Bipartisan Policy Center’s American Energy Innovation Council.
“America’s dependence on foreign sources of critical materials undermines our energy security and national security,” Energy Secretary Rick Perry said. “DOE will leverage the power of competition and the resources of the private sector, universities and the National Laboratories to develop innovative recycling technologies, which will bolster economic growth, strengthen our energy security and improve the environment.”
Cobalt and lithium are expensive and dependent on foreign sources for production. In December 2017, President Donald Trump issued an executive order on developing technologies to recycle and reprocess critical minerals as a part of a broader plan to maintain “secure and reliable supplies” of the minerals.
The goal of the center and prize is to develop technologies to profitably capture 90% of all lithium-based battery technologies in the United States, according to the DOE. Now, less than 5% of lithium-ion batteries are collected and recycled.
The DOE will invest $15 million to establish a Lithium Battery R&D Recycling Center that’s focused on cost-effective recycling processes to recover lithium battery materials. The center will be led by Argonne National Laboratory along with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
The Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize will award cash prizes up to $5.5 million to contestants in three phases, leading to the development of solutions from concept to prototype to demonstration. American entrepreneurs will work to find solutions to collect, store, and transport discarded lithium-ion batteries for recycling.