American-Made Challenges


Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize

Identify innovative solutions for collecting, sorting, storing, and transporting spent lithium-ion batteries.
Demo Day (Voluntary)
$5.5 million in total prizes

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 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.


Phase II: Prototyping and Partnering 

In Phase II, the 15 winning teams from the Phase I Contest will advance their winning concepts into end-to-end solutions that demonstrate a viable business model that can be scaled. An end-to-end solution, for the purposes of this contest, collects lithium-ion batteries at the end of their useful life and delivers them to a facility where they can be recycled. The proposed solution may or may not include an intermediate step for secondary use. Phase II submissions should include all four Phase I tracks (Collection, Separating and Sorting, Safe Storage and Transportation, and Reverse Logistics) in a single solution. 

Up to 10 winners in Phase II will be awarded up to $2,500,000 distributed equally among each winner. In addition to the cash prizes, winners will also receive a non-cash prize of up to $100,000 in vouchers that may be redeemed at national labs and qualified members of the American-Made Network. Voucher funds can be used to validate or support the demonstration of a full end-to-end solution during the Phase III contest.



$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

Phase II submissions should include the four Phase I tracks in a single solution. 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 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.


Who can compete

Per the Phase I Rules, only Phase I winners may compete in Phase II. 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 II or by joining the American Made Network. In addition to the cash prize, winning teams of Phase II will receive $100,000 in vouchers to access tools, equipment, and expertise from Voucher Service Providers within the network. 



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

Updates 9

Challenge Updates

Virtual Demo Day Connects Phase II Participants with Voucher Service Providers

July 30, 2020, 7:53 a.m. PDT by Battery Recycling Prize

On July 22, 2020, the Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize team hosted a virtual Demo Day event where participants demonstrated their concepts and select Voucher Service Providers from the American-Made Challenge Network gave short presentations on their capabilities. The presentation slides from Demo Day have been shared in the Resources section on HeroX:

Upcoming Webinar 6/11: Intellectual property (IP) and patent processes for innovators and startups

June 9, 2020, 9:58 a.m. PDT by NREL Challenge


The Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation at Carnegie Mellon University is hosting an informational webinar on intellectual property (IP) and patent processes for innovators and startups. The webinar, From Idea to Invention to Intellectual Property: What Startups and Innovators Need to Know, is on Thursday, June 11, 2020, at 11 a.m. ET.

Tune in to hear about IP best practices from legal experts at the national law firm and Network member Babst Calland, as well as Scott Institute entrepreneur Jay Whitacre. This webinar is free and will also have a Q&A session. 

Register here to join:

Phase II Contest Rules Now Available

Jan. 14, 2020, 3:53 p.m. PST by NREL Challenge

The official contest rules for Phase II of the Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize are now available on the Resources page.  These rules detail the important dates, submission criteria, and scoring criteria for the Phase II contest. As a reminder, only Phase I winners are eligible to compete in Phase II. 

We look forward to watching the Phase I winners advance their concepts into end-to-end solutions. 

Best wishes,

The Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize Team

Phase I Contest of the Battery Recycling Prize

Sept. 26, 2019, 1:42 p.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

Fifteen submissions that have been selected as Phase I winners were announced on September 25, 2019! To learn more about the submissions please visit the entries page. The Phase I winning teams have been contacted by the Battery Recycling Prize Team and are eligible to advance to the Phase II Contest as Phase II Competitors. 


There were numerous, impressive submissions to the Phase I Contest of the Battery Recycling Prize. We want to thank all teams for competing in the Phase I Contest and hope you continue to be an active member of the Li-Ion Battery Recycling Prize community as there will be expanded opportunities throughout the Phase II Contest.


Should you have questions, please feel free to reach out at 


Best wishes,


The Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize Team

Last Chance to Register & Submit!

July 30, 2019, 9:51 a.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

Tomorrow, July 31, is the last day to register your team for the Battery Recycling Prize! In order to upload your submission, you must be registered by 8:00 p.m. ET tomorrow, July 31. Full submissions are due Thursday, Aug. 1 at 8:00 p.m. ET, however, we highly recommend getting all materials submitted before then—don’t get bogged down by a network failure or long upload time and miss the deadline!

Here’s what a full submission looks like:

1. 90-second video pitch

2. Cover Page

3. Summary slide

4. Proposal

For more details on submission requirements, please see the official program rules.

As a reminder, eligible competitors 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 competitors who would like to apply to multiple tracks need to submit separate solution packages for each track to which they apply.

This is your chance to compete for a piece of $5.5M in the Battery Recycling Prize. Upload your submissions now!

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