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Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize

Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize

Identify innovative solutions for collecting, sorting, storing, and transporting spent lithium-ion batteries. Read Overview...
$5.5 million in total prizes

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 demonstrations 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.


A prize competition structured for success

The Battery Recycling Prize is an opportunity for anyone interested in accelerating ideas and solutions. It is designed to strengthen and scale the very best ideas and teams through three progressive phases.



$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.



Tracks of interest to this Battery Recycling Prize

Applicants have the option of applying to a single track or multiple tracks that have been identified as barriers in this challenge. The five tracks are: collection, separating and sorting, safe storage and transportation, reverse logistics, and other ideas. (Reverse logistics is the process of moving goods from their typical final destinations in order to capture value or for proper disposal.)  Tracks are not meant to encompass all the challenges associated with increasing the volume of the lithium-ion battery recycling supply chain, but to offer pathways to approach the challenges. The five possible tracks are further explained below:

  • Track 1: Collection — Develop a system or systems to incentivize and increase collection volume; this can include development of infrastructure or distributed network, deployment of social media, or devising a new business model.
  • Track 2: Separation and Sorting — Create a system of automated sorting and separation that is more effective (faster, more accurate, and cheaper) than current technologies.
  • Track 3: Safe Storage and Transportation — Develop solutions that could render batteries safe or inert during storage and shipping for further downstream processing.
  • Track 4: Reverse Logistics — Conceive solutions that minimize the cost of moving batteries out of end users' hands to recycling facilities, smooth the recycling supply chain, and anticipate the flow of materials.
  • Track 5: Other Ideas — Devise a radical idea or solution not otherwise addressed in the challenge that meets its goals while spurring market innovation.


Anyone can compete

Competitors are entrepreneurial individuals or teams, legally residing or based in the United States, who are scientists, researchers, business owners, students, university faculty members, or anyone with the desire and drive to transform ideas into impactful realities.


Refer to the following document for information about the rules for Phase I of the competition:

Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize Official Rules


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Yes, but it’s quick and easy. Just click the “Accept Challenge” button on this page and follow the instructions to complete your registration. All you need to provide is your name and email address.

If you have a question not answered in the FAQ, we recommend that you post it in the Forum where someone will respond to you. This way, others who may have the same question will be able to see it.

Or, you may contact a challenge administrator directly at BatteryRecyclingPrize@nrel.gov

Unfortunately, a national laboratory cannot compete.  But individuals from a national laboratory can win an award provided he/she is NOT competing in an official capacity of the laboratory.

No, if you are a contest winner you are receiving the prize for meeting or exceeding the contest goals. 


If you encounter an issue when attempting to submit an entry to the challenge, you may need to contact HeroX or the Prize Administrator.

You may try to connect with HeroX using the online form which appears in the bottom right corner of your browser window, it says Leave a Message.

You may also send a message to the Prize Administrator inbox at challenge@nrel.gov.

Please allow at least 1 business day for a response. 

The Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Vehicle Technologies Office and Advanced Manufacturing Office and administered and executed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

No. Lead-acid batteries are already collected and recycled at a rate of 99%. However, lithium-ion batteries are only collected and recycled at a rate of less than 5% so we are looking for innovative ideas to cost effectively and efficiently recycle critical materials from lithium-ion batteries.

Yes. We encourage you to promote your technology to schools, battery companies, local electronics organizations and other technical outlets.

For Phase I, yes, you may submit one solution that focuses on one of the tracks.

Both U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents are eligible to apply as individuals. In the case of an individual, whether participating singly or in a group, shall be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States. All business entities must be incorporated in the United States and conduct any work on the prize in the United States. As authority to conduct this prize comes from a U.S. statute (15 U.S.C. 3719), the rules must comply with the eligibility requirements contained in the statute.

Thank you for submitting your question to the forum on Battery Recycling Prize. We value your participation and will do our best to respond to your questions/concerns within five to seven business days. We thank you for your patience and interest.

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