US research plan to secure domestic battery materials supply for EVs, clean energy technologies

by John Shepherd
US 'in race to secure supply chains for EV market'. Photo: This Is Engineering / Pexels
The US Department of Energy (DoE) is investing up to $30m (£21.5m) to support scientific research aimed at ensuring American firms have access to battery materials and elements critical to clean energy technologies.

The announcement comes just weeks after World Battery News reported that the US and Canada would jointly develop supply chains to support a new generation of battery development and production.

US firms must be able to "reliably tap into a domestic supply of critical elements and minerals, such as lithium, cobalt and nickel” – and combat "chronic shortages” in domestic supplies, the DoE said yesterday.

Energy secretary Jennifer Granholm said: "America is in a race against economic competitors like China to own the electric vehicles market – and the supply chains for critical materials like lithium and cobalt will determine whether we win or lose.”

'We need our own supply'

"If we want to achieve a 100% carbon-free economy by 2050, we have to create our own supply of these materials, including alternatives here at home in America.”

Specifically, the money will fund research into the fundamental properties of rare-earth and platinum-group elements and the basic chemistry, materials sciences, and geosciences needed to discover substitutes.

The DoE said roughly 35 rare-earth elements, such as platinum, serve as key components to several clean-energy and high-tech applications, such as magnets in wind turbines, batteries in electric and conventional vehicles, phosphors in energy-efficient lighting and displays, and catalysts for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions.

At present, the US relies on imports from nations such as China and the Democratic Republic of Congo for these materials. Imports account for 100% of US supply of 14 of the 35 elements and more than 50% of 17 others.

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