American-Made Challenges

Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize

Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize

Identify innovative solutions for collecting, sorting, storing, and transporting spent lithium-ion batteries.
Phase II Starts with Informing Phase I Winners of Next Steps
$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.


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.



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


Updates 6

Challenge Updates

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!

Submit Your Innovative Idea to the Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize by August 1, 2019

July 17, 2019, 3:53 p.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

The Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize focuses on identifying innovative solutions for collecting, sorting, storing, and transporting spent and discarded lithium-ion batteries — from electric vehicle, consumer electronics, industrial, and stationary applications — for eventual recycling and materials recovery. The submission deadline for Phase I is August 1, 2019.

FAQ updated with questions from the informational webinar

April 30, 2019, 7:16 a.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

The FAQ section of the Battery Recycling Prize has been updated to include answers to questions asked during the Battery Recycling Prize Informational Webinar.  Please visit the FAQ for additional important information.

The Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize Informational Webinar recording is now available

April 29, 2019, 3:18 p.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

On April 10, 2019, the U.S. Department of Energy and National Renewable Energy Laboratory held an informational webinar on the Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize. David Howell, acting director of the Vehicle Technologies Office, provided an overview of the goals and vision for the prize, followed by an overview of the rules, timing, and tracks for submission. 

Download the webinar

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