The move is part of efforts to reduce US dependence on “foreign sources” for the metal, which is increasingly being used in electric vehicles and electronics, according to reports by Reuters news agency.
Lithium-ion batteries are used widely in everything from laptop computers to cars. Demand for them is increasing rapidly as more electric vehicles begin to hit the roads.
The moves are aimed at boosting the reuse of materials used in batteries needed for electric cars and other devices. The department hopes to boost the collection and recycling rate to 90 percent of all lithium-based technologies, up from 5 percent currently.
US Energy Secretary Rick Perry – The initiatives aim to “leverage the power of competition and the resources of the private sector, universities, and the national laboratories to … bolster economic growth, strengthen our energy security, and improve the environment”
The department is also reportedly launching a prize for lithium battery recycling, with awards of $5.5 million USD, to “speed the process” of taking recycling designs from concept to demonstration.
The initiatives aim to “leverage the power of competition and the resources of the private sector, universities, and the national laboratories to … bolster economic growth, strengthen our energy security, and improve the environment,” Energy Secretary Rick Perry said at a Bipartisan Policy Centre event.
The Trump administration last year launched a strategy for the United States to boost domestic production of 35 critical minerals used in manufacturing, batteries and electronics, including lithium, uranium and cobalt, to reduce reliance on foreign suppliers.
The department said it is investing $15 million in the lithium battery recycling centre, to be led by its national labs.
Recycling of Lithium-ionbatteries from electric vehicles is limited in the UK – direct recovery of precious metals from these batteries such as colbalt and nickel, as well as lithium which is harder to extract, is undertaken by specialist facilities abroad, mainly in Asia although Europe is now starting to build processing capacity.