DOE awarding $2.8B to 21 projects to boost minerals output for batteries
20 October 2022
The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award a combined $2.8 billion to 20 companies for 21 projects—the first set of projects funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) to expand domestic manufacturing of batteries for electric vehicles (EVs) and the electrical grid and for materials and components currently imported from other countries. (DE-FOA-0002678, earlier post.)
The companies will build and expand commercial-scale facilities in 12 states to extract and process lithium, graphite and other battery materials; manufacture components; and demonstrate new approaches, including manufacturing components from recycled materials. The Federal investment will be matched by some $6.2 billion from the recipients to leverage a total of more than $9 billion.
According to the DOE, the funding for the selected projects will support:
Developing enough battery-grade lithium to supply approximately 2 million EVs annually;
Developing enough battery-grade graphite to supply approximately 1.2 million EVs annually;
Producing enough battery-grade nickel to supply approximately 400,000 EVs annually;
Installing the first large-scale, commercial lithium electrolyte salt (LiPF6) production facility in the United States;
Developing an electrode binder facility capable of supplying 45% of the anticipated domestic demand for binders for EV batteries in 2030 ;
Creating the first commercial scale domestic silicon oxide production facilities to supply anode materials for an estimated 600,000 EV batteries annually; and
Installing the first lithium iron phosphate cathode facility in the United States.
Of the 20 companies, Ascend Elements has the largest single Federal award ($316 million) for its project to establish industrial scale US production capacity of sustainable, low-cost precursor cathode materials by integrating the separation of critical cathode materials from spent lithium-ion batteries (LiBs) with the production of both precursor cathode active materials (pCAM) and metal salts to support domestic production of cathode active material (CAM).
Ascend also has the largest amount awarded to a single company ($481 million) with the addition of its second project ($164 million) to plan, design, and construct a cathode active materials (CAM) plant at a greenfield site in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, and install all manufacturing equipment.
Currently, virtually all lithium, graphite, battery-grade nickel, electrolyte salt, electrode binder, and iron phosphate cathode material are produced abroad. China controls the supply chains for many of these key inputs.
Of the 20 companies selected, five will build new facilities in disadvantaged communities, and 15 in locations adjacent to disadvantaged communities. Additionally, six announced projects have established goals for hiring residents of disadvantaged communities into permanent roles, and 13 included commitments to negotiate Workforce and Community Agreements. These agreements are focused on engagement with host communities, labor unions, and/or Tribal entities, to agree on community benefits and implementation plans. At least two funded projects have collective bargaining agreements for both construction and ongoing production jobs, and an additional nine projects have committed to labor neutrality, with two applicants already pursuing Project Labor Agreements with unions representing their workers.
The funding marks the first phase of $7 billion in total provided by the IIJA to strengthen the domestic battery supply chain by supporting upstream materials processing to create the precursor materials for batteries. DOE anticipates moving quickly on additional funding opportunities to continue to fill gaps in and strengthen the domestic battery supply chain.
DOE’s Office of Manufacturing and Energy Supply Chains (MESC) will manage the portfolio of projects with support from DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Office.