American-Made Challenges


Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize

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

This challenge is closed

Submission Deadline
$5.5 million in total prizes

This challenge is closed


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 LIBs 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.


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  Phase I rules have been archived, but may be accessed here.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.

Updates 16

Challenge Updates

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

Finalist Highlight: Automated Smart Battery Sorting System from Li Industries

July 1, 2021, 2:30 p.m. PDT by Battery Recycling Prize

Machine-learning (ML) automation introduces a vital tipping point across technology areas. The accurate sorting of end-of-life batteries is no different, offering advanced sorting systems to separate batteries by various characteristics. The Smart Battery Sorting System from Li Industries leverages this cutting-edge technology to efficiently sort and separate batteries by chemical composition, size, weight, and packaging type. This concept combines industrial cameras, a scale and force sensor, and an element detector to create the integrated ML algorithm. This system feeds end-of-life lithium-ion batteries into direct recycling processes that produce rejuvenated battery materials in a more affordable and environmentally friendly way, helping reach the ultimate goal of a 90% lithium-ion battery recycling rate.

“We believe that our automated battery sorting technology can significantly improve battery sorting capabilities,” said Li Industries team captain David Young. “Our team envisions that improved sorting will enable rapid growth in battery recycling, leading to higher quality recycling outputs, improved levels of lithium-ion battery material recovery, and an overall increase in the number of batteries that are recycled every year.”

Alongside the state-of-the-art ML sorting system, Li Industries has partnered with stakeholders within the battery recovery ecosystem to create an end-to-end solution for the recovery of LIBs. These partnerships with collectors, sorters, and recyclers are vital to improving the sorting process to meet the community’s needs.

Within Phase III of the Prize, the team is working to build a pilot-scale system capable of processing batteries at a rate of 400 kg/hr or 50% of the targeted sorting rate for this system when commercially deployed. Once commercialized, this system is projected to help catalyze consumer electronic lithium-ion batteries recycled today from the current 5% rate to 18% in 2024 and 24% in 2025 through the improved economics of battery sorting and enabling additional battery recovery capabilities such as single stream battery collection.

To learn more about the Smart Battery Sorting System, contact David Young at or visit

Phase III Contest Rules Now Available

Jan. 13, 2021, 2:59 p.m. PST by Battery Recycling Prize

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

We also encourage teams to review the updated Voucher Guidelines, as well as the two new templates for use with vouchers provided under the "Resources" tab.

We look forward to watching the Phase II winners further advance and validate their concepts. 

Best wishes,

The Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize Team

Announcing the Phase II Winners of the Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize

Dec. 17, 2020, 8:29 a.m. PST by Battery Recycling Prize

Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the seven winners of Phase II of the Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize. The phased prize competition is designed to help find innovative solutions to collecting, storing, and transporting discarded lithium-ion batteries for eventual recycling. The goal is to develop and demonstrate processes that, when scaled, have the potential to profitably capture 90% of all discarded or spent lithium-based batteries in the United States, and re-introduce key materials into the U.S. supply chain.

Fourteen teams participated in Phase II of the Prize, which focused on building industry partnerships to design, simulate, and prototype a proof-of-concept solution. Phase II winners will each receive a $357,000 cash prize, in addition to $100,000 in non-cash vouchers to use at National Labs and approved organizations within the American-Made Challenges Network. These winners advance to the third and final phase of the Prize, pilot validation.  

The winning teams are:

Li Industries (Blacksburg, VA)Li Industries is developing a machine learning-based, automated Smart Battery Sorting System capable of accurately and efficiently sorting and separating batteries by several characteristics, including chemical composition, size, weight, and packaging type. End of life LIBs sorted this way can be fed into direct recycling processes that produce rejuvenated battery materials more cheaply and efficiently.
OnTo Technology (Bend, OR)OnTo’s deactivate, identify, sort, and cut (DISC) solution provides safe and efficient end-of-life processing of waste batteries by sorting LIBs by cathode chemistry. The DISC locations will be implemented across the country to minimize hazardous shipping. 
Powering the Future (Glendale, WI)Clarios is leveraging the existing network of collection for lead-acid batteries to collect end of life LIBs. This concept will apply innovative technologies to handle mixed EOL batteries to identify, separate LIBs from lead-acid, and ultimately optimize the network’s value.
Renewance (Chicago, IL)The Renewance Connect digital platform tracks and manages LIBs throughout their full life cycle. This asset tracking and marketplace concept optimizes reverse logistics and recycling activities by improving access to and utilizing existing infrastructure for decommissioning, collection, warehousing, sorting, transportation, and recycling services.
Smartville (San Diego, CA)Smartville is deploying distributed heterogeneous unifying battery (HUB) facilities to reduce costs and create value in the reverse logistics supply chain. LIBs will be fully balanced, conditioned, and certified within the Smartville HUB facility before being repurposed for secondary use or shipped to recyclers. 

Team Portables

(Seattle, WA)

Reward to Recycle is a consumer engagement smartphone app where consumers learn how to earn a reward for recycling their battery. This app uses a digital identity to track portable LIBs and support final recycling.
Titan Advanced Energy Solutions (Sommerville, MA)Battago is Titan’s Battery Market Intelligence platform built to generate, aggregate, and connect battery data to create a transparent marketplace and bridge the gap between battery owners, integrators, and end of life recyclers. This platform combines hardware and software capabilities to deliver battery identification through visual recognition, diagnostics, and rapid ultrasonic testing. 

The Battery Recycling Prize support DOE’s Energy Storage Grand Challenge, which draws on the extensive research capabilities of the DOE National Laboratories, universities, and industry to accelerate the development of energy-storage technologies and sustain American global leadership in the energy storage technologies of the future.

The $5.5 million Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize was announced in January 2019. The Prize is sponsored by the Vehicle Technologies Office and the Advanced Manufacturing Office. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) serves as the administrator of the Prize. To learn more about the Battery Recycling Prize, please visit

Forum 38
Teams 456