U.S. Department of Energy Funding Announcement
The U.S. Department of Energy will support companies developing cutting-edge technologies to help the domestic production of lithium-ion batteries through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Nineteen U.S. companies will receive nearly 2. 8 billion dollars to compete in the battery race started by Asian countries, including China, South Korea, and Japan.
The program's primary focus is producing battery raw materials, such as graphite, lithium, nickel, cobalt, manganese, and other battery components. The companies included in this list are reviewed here.
A $50 million fund will be given to 6k Inc. to develop an active cathode material with a capacity of 3,000 tpa (tonnes per annum) in 2025 and will scale to 10,000 tonnes per annum in 2026. 6K will produce NCM811, high-nickel NCA, and LFP cathode material via microwave-assisted plasma synthesis. In high-temperature plasma, the precursors are ionized, helping to speed up reactions between them. The process speeds up production rates by reducing high-temperature calcination time. Additionally, 90% of the water consumption is reduced because metal hydroxide does not precipitate in an aqueous medium.
Battery manufacturers are moving to cobalt-free and low-cobalt cathodes due to the shortage of cobalt minerals. Namely, cobalt dependency can be minimized by using lithium iron phosphate. ICL-IP America Inc. has planned to establish a production line for LFP cathode active material with funding of $197 million from the government to produce 15,000 tons of LFP in a year.
A $250 million grant will help three U.S. companies scale up silicon-based anode materials for EV batteries. The chemical vapor deposition (CVD) method is used by Amprius, Group14, and Sila Nanotechnologies to make silicon and silicon/carbon anodes. All three companies' technology is explained in detail in our silicon patent landscape 2020, which you can download as a sample report.
China is estimated to supply 60% of the world's battery graphite needs. In this regard, the U.S. Department of Energy is providing $117 million to Anovion LLC to mass-produce synthetic graphite with U.S.-owned technology with a capacity of 35,000 tons annually.
Albemarle, the largest lithium supplier in the United States, has a $150 million fund to produce 8,000 tons of spodumene daily, resulting in 1,200 tons of lithium oxide (Li2O) concentrate. Albemarle's plant will provide 50,000 metric tons of lithium hydroxide to make batteries for 750,000 electric cars in a year. Read about different lithium sources and minerals here.
American Battery Technology Company (ABTC), receiving $58 million, will produce 5,000 tons of LiOH from lithium-containing minerals annually and will be expanded to 30,000 tons in the future. Hydrometallurgy is the method used by ABTC at the University of Nevada in Reno. Lilac Solutions demonstrates a method for extracting lithium from low-concentration brines and synthesizing battery-grade lithium precursors based on ion exchange separation.
Talon Nickel and Tesla will develop a supply chain of domestic nickel to provide nickel concentrate and recycling, supplying 75,000 tons of nickel concentrate annually.
U.S. funding programs place a great deal of emphasis on recycling. About $240 million has been allocated to Ascend Elements and Cirba Solutions to develop recycling processes to reuse lithium from spent batteries. Other battery components such as separators, electrolyte salt, and electrode binder are other parts of the program to complete the supply chain for all battery components in the U.S.