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US launches lithium recycling prize and research centre

Mon, 01/28/2019 - 00:00 -- Hugh Finzel
US Energy Secretary Rick Perry

The US Department of Energy (DoE) has launched a Lithium-ion Battery Recycling Prize and an associated Battery Recycling R&D Centre, in a bid to reduce “America’s dependence on foreign sources of critical (battery) materials”.

The recycling prize will make awards totalling US$5.5 million to encourage innovation from American entrepreneurs in the fields of collecting, storing, and transporting discarded lithium-ion batteries for eventual recycling.

In addition, the US will invest $15m to establish the recycling centre “focused on cost-effective recycling processes to recover lithium battery materials”. The centre is to be led by Argonne National Laboratory, with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Energy secretary Rick Perry (pictured) said US dependence on foreign sources “undermines our energy security and national security”.

The shared goal of the recycling prize and the centre is to progress toward profitably capturing 90% of all lithium-based battery technologies in the US. Less than 5% of all US lithium-ion batteries are currently collected and recycled, according to the DoE.

The initiatives follow a presidential executive order issued in December 2017 that identified the importance of “developing critical minerals recycling and reprocessing technologies” as part of a broader strategy “to ensure secure and reliable supplies of critical minerals”.

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