The U.S. Department of Energy on Wednesday selected 20 companies to receive a combined $2.8 billion for projects that expand domestic battery manufacturing and minerals processing necessary to support the transition to electric vehicles
DOE said 21 total projects span a dozen states and will focus on the extraction and processing of lithium, graphite and other battery materials, along with component manufacturing and demonstration projects, including manufacturing components from recycled materials.
EV sales are growing quickly, and the Biden administration has taken steps to develop a domestic battery supply chain. “Producing advanced batteries and components here at home will accelerate the transition,” Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said.
According to DOE, almost all lithium, graphite, battery-grade nickel and other materials are "produced abroad, and China controls the supply chains.”
Electrification advocates said the funding represents a real commitment from the federal government to securing domestic supply chains.
“This is what getting serious about competing with China, developing a robust domestic electric vehicle supply chain, and leading the world in clean transportation technology looks like,” Zero Emission Transportation Association Executive Director Joe Britton said in a statement.
Among the projects that will receive funding, DOE said:
- American Battery Technology will receive $57.7 million for development of a commercial-scale facility to demonstrate a new process for manufacturing battery cathode grade lithium hydroxide, near Tonopah, Nevada;
- Piedmont Lithium will receive $141.7 million to develop a facility in McMinn County, Tennessee, capable of producing 30,000 metric tons per year of lithium hydroxide for the domestic battery and EV market, “doubling the lithium hydroxide production capacity currently available in the United States”;
- 6k Inc. will receive $50 million to develop domestic production of multiple battery chemistries while also demonstrating the ability to recycle end-of-life batteries, “freeing the U.S. from its current dependence on conflict nations.” A final decision on site locations is expected in December.
According to DOE, the funding announced Wednesday will support development of enough battery-grade lithium for 2 million EVs annually. The agency also said the funding is the “first phase” of $7 billion provided by the bipartisan infrastructure law to build out the domestic battery supply chain.
DOE also announced the launch of the American Battery Material Initiative, a dedicated effort to align dozens of federal programs in growing the battery supply chain.
The initiative will “coordinate domestic and international efforts to accelerate permitting for critical minerals projects,” DOE said, while also noting its commitment to the environment and outreach to impacted communities.