American-Made Challenges

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Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize

Identify innovative solutions for collecting, sorting, storing, and transporting spent lithium-ion batteries.

This challenge is closed

stage:
Submission Deadline
prize:
$5.5 million in total prizes

This challenge is closed

Overview

Challenge Overview

Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize

Innovation happens when the right resources, people, and passion come together to address a challenge. With the Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize, teams of creative individuals, entrepreneurs, and businesses will advance conceptual solutions to prototypes and finally to pilot validations to address challenges with the lithium-ion battery recycling supply chain. The goal of this $5.5-million phased prize competition is to develop and demonstrate processes that, when scaled, have the potential to capture 90% of all discarded or spent lithium-ion batteries in the United States for eventual recovery of key materials for re-introduction into the U.S. supply chain.

 

Phase III: Pilot Validation

In Phase III, the seven winning teams will demonstrate their ability to recover lithium-ion batteries and verify the feasibility of achieving the end-to-end solution’s projected impact when fully scaled. Teams received up to $100,000 in vouchers to partner with industry experts and DOE’s National Laboratories through the American-Made Challenge Network to support their pilot validation. 

 

 

$5.5 million in incentives for innovation

The three phases of contests will fast-track efforts to find innovative solutions to solve current challenges associated with collecting, sorting, storing, and transporting spent/discarded lithium-ion batteries for eventual recycling.

 

Who can compete

Per the Phase III Rules, only Phase II winners may compete in Phase III. This is due to the structure of the contest, which allows participants to advance their solutions further in each phase. 

Interested parties can still participate in the contest by either partnering with a winning team to compete in Phase III. Other prize opportunities are available within the American-Made Challenge Network.  

 

For more information about the Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize, refer to the official rules.

Guidelines

Challenge Guidelines

Official rules:

The Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize competition consists of three progressive phases. View the official rules for Phase II.  

The rules for Phase III will be available at a later date.  Phase I rules have been archived, but may be accessed here.

 

Watch this informational webinar for an overview of the rules, goals, timing, and submission tracks for the prize.

For multiple track submissions:

Eligible teams/participants can participate in and submit innovations for multiple prize tracks; however, eligible teams/participants are required to select a single track per submission and are limited to one solution per submission. Eligible teams/participants who would like to apply to multiple tracks need to submit separate solution packages for each track to which they apply.

Timeline
Updates 19

Challenge Updates

Finalist: Distributed Battery Conditioning for Reuse with HUB Facilities

Aug. 26, 2021, 10:30 a.m. PDT by Battery Recycling Prize

One of the core challenges of lithium-ion battery recovery is the cost of safely collecting, sorting and transporting the spent batteries to reuse applications or recycling facilities. Smartville is addressing this challenge through the development of heterogenous unifying battery (HUB) facilities at distributed locations for advanced screening and conditioning. Smartville’s HUB facilities will create value within the reverse logistics supply chain by cost-effectively qualifying used batteries to enable safe, reliable, and economic repurposing of these assets for utility-scale and customer-sited energy storage applications prior to ultimate end-of-life recycling.

“Our HUB system meets the economic demands of reverse logistics by consolidating the lithium-ion battery collection to distributed locations, minimizing the transportation costs and risks within the supply chain,” explained Smartville Team Captain Mike Ferry. 

Smartville is developing a streamlined process for screening, conditioning, and repurposing operations at the HUB facilities, aided by Renewance and Spiers New Technology as collection, logistics, and recycling partners. Any batteries with consistent remaining life will be captured and integrated by Smartville for second-use applications. The HUB facilities ensure efficiency in reverse logistics by serving as a one-stop location for lithium-ion battery collection, sorting, storage, conditioning, second-life reuse, and recycling.

For the third and final phase of the Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize, Smartville is conducting a pilot demonstration of the Modular Assembly Battery (MOAB) systems, an essential component to repurposing spent lithium-ion batteries for stationary storage. The MOAB, enabled by its proprietary power electronics and balancing control, provides a universal platform for assessing and repurposing battery packs of different makes and models, and serves as the scalable building block for Smartville’s hybrid repurposing and recycling HUB facility. Within the next five years, Smartville plans to deploy two HUB facilities in the U.S. to provide services in locations with high lithium-ion battery recycling needs, achieving annual battery processing capacity of over 25,000 metric tons. Whether or not the batteries are repurposed, the HUB facility will be able to track and recycle batteries at the end of life to meet DOE’s rate of recycling target of 90%. 

For more information on the Smartville HUB facility and MOAB building block, contact Mike Ferry at .


Finalist: A Reverse Logistics Marketplace with Renewance Connect

Aug. 19, 2021, 1:29 p.m. PDT by Battery Recycling Prize

With the development of Renewance Connect, a purpose-built digital platform for tracking and managing batteries throughout their lifecycle, the Renewance team is putting the power to recycle back into the hands of lithium-ion battery consumers. Through Renewance Connect, parties with end-of-life batteries have convenient access to reuse and recycling services from qualified parties that can recover spent lithium-ion batteries in the most competitive, eco-friendly, and regulatory compliant manner. In addition, the platform allows users to prioritize cost, timing, and environmental impact of the potential recovery solutions.

"Renewance Connect provides efficient end-to-end reverse logistics for reuse and recycling through optimized on-demand services," explained Renewance Team Captain Thomas Newhall "This strategy maximizes recovery rates in a fully traceable, environmentally sound, and cost-effective manner."

To accomplish this vision, Renewance Connect leverages the existing infrastructure alongside cradle-to-grave asset tracking to optimize the recycling supply chain. The Renewance team works with stakeholders throughout the supply chain, such as battery manufacturers, collection services, state-of-health assessment, and reuse or recycling organizations. This unique cradle-to-grave strategy also informs industrial battery owners of their asset retirement obligations at the beginning of the battery lifecycle. 

In Phase III of the Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize, Renewance focuses on further platform development and validation efforts for stationary storage and electric vehicle applications. Renewance is collaborating with Argonne National Laboratory and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to refine the platform's environmental impact and reuse value analysis. When fully scaled, Renewance Connect will be able to track the number of lithium-ion batteries active in the marketplace, as well as the recovery rate over time. 

To learn more about the Renewance Connect, contact Thomas Newhall at .


Phase III Participants Featured in North Carolina Department of Energy Quality Webinar

Aug. 16, 2021, 2:28 p.m. PDT by Battery Recycling Prize

On Wednesday, August 4, 2021, four of the Phase III participating teams accepted an invitation to present in a Prize-focused webinar hosted by the North Carolina Department of Energy Quality (NC DEQ). This voluntary networking event allowed teams to present their concept solutions and receive feedback from stakeholders and industry experts to inform their plans for the Phase III Final Submission.

We would like to thank NC DEQ and the four featured teams for joining this collaborative webinar to further develop these concepts in support of the U.S. Department of Energy goal to capture 90% of all discarded or spent lithium-based batteries in the U.S. for eventual recovery of key materials for re-introduction into the U.S. supply chain. 

 


Finalist Highlight: Banking Today's Materials to Power the Future

July 15, 2021, 10:40 a.m. PDT by Battery Recycling Prize

The efficient recycling of lithium-ion batteries will rely on strong market infrastructure. Clarios' existing lead-acid battery collection network provides the necessary backbone to ensure this recycling process is sustainable and enduring. The "Powering the Future" team assembled by Clarios includes industry partners and experts to implement safe handling of spent and discarded lithium-ion batteries. 

"Clarios is uniquely positioned to be a player in the lithium recycling economy," said Power the Future team captain Michael Sendelbach. "Our solution highlights how our commitment to sustainable life-cycle management can provide a scalable answer for end-of-life and second-life battery solutions."

Clarios plans to implement a closed-loop economy through five distinct stages: batter collection, sorting and diagnoses, separation and packaging, transportation, and recycling. At each step in this process, the team has partnered with industry experts to provide state-of-the-art solutions, including Global Battery Solutions, Admiral Instruments, Environmental Restoration, and more. By coordinating between organizations, Clarios can adapt its process to distinct subgroups of end-of-life lithium-ion batteries. 

The Power the Future solution implemented a successful trial run in Phase II of the Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize. In Phase III, the team plans to incorporate hardware and packaging solutions for a pilot-scale demonstration. In addition, Clarios will be collaborating with Voucher Service Providers from the American-Made Network to expand cost modeling tools to guide future implementation. 

To learn more about Powering the Future, contact or .


Finalist Highlight: DISC Solution from OnTo Technology

July 8, 2021, 9:15 a.m. PDT by Battery Recycling Prize

Before lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) can be safely transported for eventual recycling, the hazardous materials within these batteries must be deactivated. To address this problem, OnTo Technology has created a DISC Solution—which stands for "deactivate, identify, sort, and cut"—to minimize risks from shipping LIBs. This solution will sort batteries based on cathode chemistry using automated technology, then deactivated to neutralize flammability and chemical hazards. 

"OnTo Technology is leveraging our existing cathode-healing™ direct recycling technologies to meet the challenges that currently exist within the LIB supply chain," explained OnTo Technology team captain Lauren Crandon. "A major advantage of DISC is the ability to ship large quantities of inert, sorted, identified material at a low cost."

To disassemble and "cut" the battery packs, modules, and cells, OnTo Technology has partnered with Shape Technologies Group to implement precision cutting technology. This safe and effective method will use automated disassembly to transform end-of-life lithium-ion batteries into high-yield sorted electrode materials and clean foils. 

The implementation of the DISC Solution involves regional processing facilities at strategic locations around the country. This will allow the team to transport the resulting harvested electrode material to various destination recycling facilities. In Phase III, of the Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize, OnTo Technology is developing an initial pilot demonstration to show how this solution can process an average of 360 tons of spent or discarded LIBs per year. Within six years, OnTo Technology plans to scale this solution to process 86,400 tons per year, meeting the ambitious Prize goal of 90% of the existing market. 

To learn more about the DISC Solution, contact


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