DOE awards $2.8B to battery companies to boost domestic production

The Biden-Harris administration, through the Department of Energy (DOE), announced Wednesday that 20 battery companies will receive a combined $2.8 billion to build and expand commercial-scale facilities in 12 states.

This is the first phase of $7 billion in total from President Biden’s Infrastructure Law that aims to strengthen domestic battery supply chains and reduce reliance on China for battery supply and production as more vehicles become electrified. The companies getting funds will work to extract and process lithium, graphite and other battery materials, manufacture components and demonstrate new ways of acquiring critical materials, including battery recycling, domestically or within free trade agreement countries, the DOE said.

The DOE didn’t specify which companies were awarded funds, but Gene Berdichevksy, co-founder and CEO of battery chemistry company Sila, told TechCrunch his startup received $100 million from the fund. Sila is replacing the graphite in the battery’s anode with silicon, which the company says not only makes a better battery but also avoids the supply chain constraints from sourcing graphite from China. The money will go toward Sila’s upcoming Moses Lake, Washington facility, which aims to deliver 10 gigawatt-hours of capacity annually.

Berdichevsky touched on the news Wednesday at TechCrunch Disrupt, where he joined a panel on building companies with longer time horizons.

Other recipients of the funding include American Battery Technology Company, Syrah Technologies, Albermarle and Piedmont Lithium.

The DOE said the federal investment will be matched by recipients to bring in more than $9 billion to boost American production of clean energy technology, which supports Biden’s goal of all new vehicle sales being electric by 2030.

Earlier this year, Biden also passed into law the Inflation Reduction Act, which included a set of stipulations for consumers to qualify for EV tax credits, including the need for critical battery materials to be sourced domestically or in free trade agreement countries, rather than China.

The DOE has a series of goals for the selected projects, including developing enough battery-grade lithium to support about 2 million EVs annually, enough graphite to support 1.2 million EVs annually and enough nickel to supply about 400,000 EVs annually.

The funding will also help install the first large-scale, commercial lithium electrolyte salt production facility in the U.S. and the first lithium iron phosphate cathode facility in the U.S., among other facilities.

This article has been updated with information about the recipients of the DOE’s funding.