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Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize

The U.S. 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 (EV), consumer electronics, industrial, and stationary applications — for eventual recycling and materials recovery.

The Battery Recycling Prize is a $5.5-million phased prize competition designed to incentivize American entrepreneurs 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 for eventual recovery of key materials for re-introduction into the U.S. supply chain.

This Battery Recycling Prize is NOT for lead-acid batteries as currently a vast recycling supply chain collects, stores, transports, recycles, and re-introduces more than 99% of lead back into the lead-acid battery supply chain.

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The Battery Recycling Prize Contests

The competition consists of three phases that will fast-track efforts to identify, develop, and test disruptive solutions to meet battery recycling needs. Each phase includes a contest period when participants work to rapidly advance their solutions. First launched in January 2019, the Battery Recycling Prize already awarded a total of $5.5 million in cash prizes in three phases over approximately 4 years. Continuation of the prize introduces two additional phases and $7.2 million in cash prizes and voucher funding to further the goal of contributing to the 90% recovery target through innovative solutions.

Researchers working in a laboratory.
Timeline for the Battery Recycling Prize

Phase I: Concept Development and Incubation (COMPLETE) — Applicants submitted a business model or an innovative solution and technology plan toward profitable collection, sorting and separation, storing and transporting (while rendering batteries safe or inert) of end-of-use and spent lithium-ion batteries. Applicants submitted concepts related to a single track, multiple tracks, or full end-to-end solutions for one or multiple applications (consumer electronics, electric vehicles, and stationary storage and/or other large industrial uses). Fifteen winners were selected at the end of Phase I, with each team receiving a $67,000 cash prize.

Phase II: Prototyping and Partnering (COMPLETE) — Participants design, simulate, and prototype a proof-of-concept solution for one or multiple commercial uses (consumer electronics, electric vehicles, and stationary storage and/or other large industrial uses). Participants are encouraged to incorporate winning ideas from various tracks. Seven winners were selected at the end of Phase II, with each team receiving a $357,000 cash prize and up to $100,000 in noncash vouchers for use at national labs and approved organizations within the American-Made Network.

Phase III: Pilot Validation (COMPLETE) — Participants advanced their end-to-end solutions from proof-of-prototype to a refined pilot of the technology. This included building, demonstration, and analysis to validate a small-scale pilot prototype with a focus on solutions under real-world applications and scenarios for one or multiple applications (consumer electronics, electric vehicles, and stationary storage and/or other large industrial uses). Four winners were selected at the end of Phase III, with each team receiving a $500,000 cash prize.

Breakthrough (NOW OPEN) — Incentivizes new submissions (Track 1: New Competitors) from battery industry entrepreneurs that demonstrate innovative solutions that meet the goal of the prize and invites Phase III winners (Track 2: Verified Competitors) to further develop their concept solutions with the support of additional $100,000 noncash vouchers to support the continued validation and demonstration of their Phase III pilot-scale solutions. Up to ten winners will be selected to win a portion of the $2.4 million prize pool.

View the Breakthrough Competition Official Rules

Phase IV: Demonstration of Impact — Participants will demonstrate how effectively their solution contributes to establishing infrastructure to move spent or discarded lithium-ion batteries from consumers to recyclers across all commercial uses. Teams must work alongside approved Evaluation Entities to verify the impact of their submission based on the recovered lithium-ion batteries or validation of second use.

The intent of this Battery Recycling Prize is to:

  • Enable U.S.-based recyclers to reach economies of scale in their processes by providing higher volume feedstocks
  • Attract private, public, state, and local dollar investments to scale collection, storage, and transportation of spent and discarded lithium-ion batteries
  • Create new solutions and develop them from concepts to eventually recycle 90% of spent and discarded lithium-ion batteries
  • Bring together diverse technologies and entities/innovators/businesses that when combined can provide a more comprehensive solution to the challenges facing the battery recycling supply chain.

Solutions that help shape the future of battery recycling

Learn about this Prize