USA to recycle critical materials more intensely


The U.S. Department of Energy announced the establishment of a research and development center for the recycling of critical materials such as cobalt and lithium from lithium-ion batteries. The intention is to reduce dependence on foreign resources.

The specific goal of the center, which is managed by the Argonne National Laboratory together with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, is to increase the collection and recycling rate of lithium-based batteries from electric vehicles, consumer electronics and other applications from currently only five to 90 percent. Investments of 15 billion dollars have been budgeted for this.

In this context, the ministry has launched a competition for innovative recycling models, including a prize worth 5.5 million dollars. Universities, private initiatives and national laboratories are invited to submit their proposals.

The project is in line with a strategy presented by the Trump administration last year to increase domestic production of 35 critical minerals, including lithium, uranium and cobalt. Energy secretary Rick Perry underscored the intention of the initiative as follows, lest anybody get confused and assume that the Trump administration were focused on the environment: “America’s dependence on foreign sources of critical materials undermines our energy security and national security.” He continues by listing the priorities which will be addressed: “DOE will leverage the power of competition and the resources of the private sector, universities, and the National Laboratories to develop innovative recycling technologies, which will bolster economic growth, strengthen our energy security, and improve the environment.”,,

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