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DOE and Private Sector Partner to Develop U.S. Lithium Battery Supplies

The U.S. Department of Energy is collaborating with industry leaders to bolster domestic lithium battery supplies and manufacturing capabilities to speed the move to electric vehicles. Lithium batteries, the automotive industry’s best and most widely used battery system, are typically imported into the United States from foreign markets. Lithium, and other minerals used in the battery-making process, are also scarce resources that are mined in various areas of the world to be exported. These realities have created a burden for domestic auto manufacturers, which are moving fast to include fully electric vehicles in their fleet. President Biden’s climate goals, such as reaching net-zero emissions by the year 2050, and the emphasis on American automakers making the transition to electric vehicles only exacerbates the existing supply and manufacturing issues that currently exist. In an effort to alleviate the supply chain tensions, the DOE has created a program called Li-Bridge. Li-Bridge is a public-private partnership between the DOE and more than 600 industry representatives tasked with tackling these issues and freeing American lithium battery production from global constraints. “Achieving the lofty targets of the National Blueprint for Lithium Batteries will require alignment between the federal government, private industry, and research institutions working hand-in-hand to develop the batteries of the future, mass-produce them, establish a resilient supply chain, and do this all at record speed,” said Venkat Srinivasan, director of the Argonne Collaborative Center for Energy Storage Science (ACCESS) and deputy director of the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR), in a press release. “While the U.S. has all the pieces to achieve these goals, they are fragmented. The Li-Bridge alliance will bring these pieces into a cohesive whole,” Srinivasan said. In addition to the formation of Li-Bridge, the DOE also announced $209 million in funding for 26 new laboratory projects focusing on electric vehicles, advanced batteries, and connected vehicles. Automakers are responding to market demands for EVs and federal initiatives to facilitate their development. The rise of major EV manufacturers such as Tesla proves that there is public interest in EVs. Several major auto manufacturers including Ford, Chevrolet, Toyota, Volkswagen, and Volvo have all begun producing electric-only models of some of their most popular models that typically feature internal combustion engines. “President Biden’s Administration wants to make it easier for millions of American families and businesses to make the switch to electric vehicles,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm in a press release. “By developing smarter vehicle batteries, we can make these technologies cheaper and more accessible, while positioning America to become a global leader of EV infrastructure production and clean energy jobs.”

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