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Microbattery Design Prize

Seeking designs for microbatteries to support new uses for small electronic devices with improved performance, safety, and recyclability.

This challenge is closed

stage:
Phase 1 Winner Announcement
prize:
$1,100,000

This challenge is closed

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Summary

Overview

Computing power that once fit in a room now fits in our pockets or on our fingertips. Microelectronics continue to transform society, but emerging applications for these tiny technologies requires new cutting-edge battery designs to meet demand. 

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Technologies Office launched the Microbattery Design Prize to supercharge this opportunity. This two-phase prize will help inspire promising designs for small-capacity batteries that yield devices with improved performance, safety, and recyclability. 

The prize is designed to advance innovative new designs for microbatteries and accelerate their commercialization and integration into existing technologies needed for clean energy manufacturing, like sensors for improved smart manufacturing processes or for grid monitoring to help more renewable energy sources come onto the grid.

 

The prize also aims to close existing gaps in the microelectronics and energy storage supply chains, which will strengthen both U.S. manufacturing competitiveness abroad and domestic end-to-end supply chains for these technologies.

 

Prize Structure

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The Microbattery Design Prize has two phases that will run from 2023 to 2024. During Phase 1, also called the Idea Phase, competitors will develop and submit technical designs and schematics for microbatteries that serve a specific application and meet certain performance goals that go beyond what is commercially available today. During Phase 2, also referred to as the Test Phase, competitors will create prototypes they can submit to DOE national labs for performance and safety testing. Graphic by John Frenzl, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

 

The Microbattery Design Prize offers a total prize pool of $1.1 million in federal funding, and performance and safety testing services with DOE national laboratories.

Phase 1: Idea

In Phase 1, teams will submit designs for batteries, including descriptions, technical specifications, intended applications, and impacts. Up to six winning teams will each receive a $75,000 cash prize and performance and safety testing services with DOE national laboratories.

Phase 2: Test

In Phase 2, open only to winning teams from Phase 1, competitors will submit technical data from battery testing prototypes of their winning designs, along with techno-economic analyses and business plans, as well as letters of support from potential commercial partners, if available. At the end of Phase 2, one winning team will receive $300,000, and up to two runners up will receive $175,000 each in cash.

The Microbattery Design Prize is open only to private (for-profit and nonprofit) entities; nonfederal government entities, such as those at state, county, tribal, and municipality levels; academic institutions; and individuals. More information can be found in the official Microbattery Design Prize Rules document[CL1] .


Guidelines

Please review the official rules for the complete application process and instructions for competing.

If you have any questions, please subscribe by using the contact feature on the HeroX platform or message us directly at

Timeline
Updates10

Challenge Updates

Microbattery Design Prize Phase 1 Winner Announcement and Phase 2 Launch!

Nov. 16, 2023, 3:17 p.m. PST by NREL Prize Administrator

Meet the eight teams that won the first of two phases of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Microbattery Design Prize. Funded by the Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Technologies Office and administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the prize encourages teams to compete to design microbatteries that can outperform today’s models in performance, safety, and recyclability and supercharge everything from smart watches to manufacturing and a future 100% clean energy power grid. In Phase 2, which launched November 16, the eight Phase 1 winners will submit prototypes of their microbatteries and vie for a chance to win the $300,000 grand prize.

 

  • The AUDIANCE, Inc. team, based in Providence, Rhode Island, is building a microbattery to power implantable medical devices, like cochlear impacts. The team’s design, which consists of uniquely shaped electrodes and a safe gel electrolyte, could be rechargeable as well as safer and longer lasting than current technologies.

 

  • Boston-based Biochem is designing a “biological battery,” built with a novel microorganism, that will power underwater sensors at the New England Aquarium. Because it can be dangerous to use lithium batteries in underwater animal tracking sensors, Biochem’s non-lithium battery is a safer option as well as lightweight, renewable, and affordable.

 

  • Drexel Nanomaterials Institute, in University City, Pennsylvania, is developing printed lithium-ion microbatteries for hearing aids. Their design could provide the over 1.5 billion people who experience hearing loss worldwide with smaller and lighter hearing aid devices which can charge faster and last longer.

 

  • In San Jose, California, the Ensurge Micropower, Inc. team is designing an affordable, long-lasting microbattery for microelectronics, like hearables and wearables. Their solid-state microbattery uses solid rather than liquid electrolyte, making it a safer option, and comes in customizable sizes, so manufacturers can create the shape they need for their device.

 

  • Ionic Devices, based in College Park, Maryland, is a new start-up working on a solid-state battery that leverages thin film manufacturing processes from the semiconductor industry and is safer than traditional lithium-ion batteries. Their design could offer a lower cost, more environmentally friendly battery that can store more energy at a time. 

 

  • The MORENERGY team from Rolla, Missouri is designing a lithium-ion microbattery that could improve current hearing aid technologies, enabling them to last longer, be rechargeable (or recharge faster), and come in smaller sizes. Their microbattery’s design innovation gives it the ability to store more energy in a smaller package, which could also give hearing aids additional functionality, like Bluetooth connection.

 

  • In Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania, the Power 3D team is improving on their novel method of creating energy dense batteries using 3D printed electrodes. Such electrodes can build next generation wearable electronics that can last longer and charge faster than the products available today.

 

  • The XTemp Quanta team in Troy, Michigan is creating a 3D-printed microbattery that can withstand extreme temperatures and has five times the capacity of similar sized batteries. Their design uses lithium-ion phosphate, a more sustainable option than cobalt. 

 


Microbattery Design Prize submissions due on Thursday!

June 26, 2023, 6 a.m. PDT by NREL Prize Administrator

Don’t miss your last chance to submit a design for the Microbattery Design Prize! This prize challenges competitors to create new cutting-edge designs for microbattery technology. Up to $1.1 million in cash will be awarded to participants who best optimize the safety, recyclability, and performance of these tiny technologies in their proposals. Be sure to submit your design by this Thursday June 29, 2023!


REMINDER: Microbattery Design Prize submissions are due June 29, 2023!

June 12, 2023, 11:36 a.m. PDT by NREL Prize Administrator

Got a big idea for a tiny technology? Don’t miss your chance to submit a design for the Microbattery Design Prize! This prize challenges competitors to create new cutting-edge designs for microbattery technology. Up to $1.1 million in cash will be awarded to participants who best optimize the safety, recyclability, and performance of these tiny technologies in their proposals.

Watch the recording of the informational webinar to learn how and why to apply. Then click “Solve This Challenge” to submit your design by June 29, 2023.


Don't miss the Entrepreneur Futures Network Webinar in Support of the Microbattery Design Prize 5/22/2023

May 19, 2023, 11:25 a.m. PDT by NREL Prize Administrator

Register for Entrepreneur Futures Network's May 22nd webinar to learn how to compete for the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) $1.1M Microbattery Design Prize.

Learn from the panel of experts including Hal Stillman, Senior Advisor at Argonne National Labs, and Professor Paul Braun with the University of Illinois.

There will be networking opportunities and plenty of time for Q&A.

Register here for this webinar. https://lnkd.in/gQTENwy3 
 


Watch the Microbattery Design Prize supplemental webinar hosted by EFN!

May 8, 2023, 6 a.m. PDT by NREL Prize Administrator

Our Power Connector Entrepreneur Futures Network's hosted a webinar last Monday to support the Microbattery Design Prize. Check it out!

Microbattery Webinar - May 1: https://vimeo.com/823120897?share=copy

 


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