Despite the clear fossil fuel bias in this administration, the US Department of Energy has been paying a bit of attention to the electric vehicle (EV) revolution, and is looking to help secure critical battery supplies in the global battery supply chain and setting the foundation to do so.
In particular, the DOE issued a request for information (RFI) today as it announced that it is both looking for ways to reduce the need for critical materials in batteries and also for ways to support the recycling of those batteries/materials. It asked for “input on the current state of the battery cathode materials supply chains, as well as opportunities for near-term and long-term research and development (R&D).”
The information that the DOE gathers from this RFI will be used to create the agenda for a coming R&D Battery Critical Materials Supply Chain Workshop. The DOE expects to hold the workshop in the fall, but I imagine that may depend on Covid-19 matters since it was indicated that it was “tentatively planned” at this point. The workshop will inform the R&D roadmap that the DOE plans to deliver in response to Executive Order 13817, A Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals.
Will this help beyond what Tesla, GM, Ford, and others are doing on the battery front? We’ll see.
“Critical materials are used in many products important to the American energy economy. For example, critical materials like lithium and cobalt are vital to manufacturing lithium-ion batteries used for electric vehicles and grid energy storage. Demand for these resources continues to grow,” the DOE writes.
“Innovation in our domestic industries and continued investment by DOE programs will help strengthen our country’s ability to manufacture and recycle these materials, and work toward more robust domestic supply chains,” added Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Daniel R Simmons.
The RFI will also play into the previously announced Energy Storage Grand Challenge, “which draws on the extensive research capabilities of the DOE National Laboratories, universities, and industry to accelerate the development of energy-storage technologies and sustain American global leadership in the energy storage technologies of the future.”
There’s no denying it — the EV and battery revolution is well underway. Winners will be the ones innovating within this revolution, adding electrons to the charge, and ensuring their workforces and economies have a bright future in a new electric era.
Are you excited yet?