US Secretary of Energy, Jennifer Granholm, has hosted a roundtable discussion with seven members of the lithium battery industry.

Each member represents a segment of the battery supply chain—and discussions centred on how the Federal government and private industry can collaborate to strengthen domestic lithium.

The Department of Energy maintains the US relies heavily on importing advanced battery components from abroad, exposing the nation to supply chain vulnerabilities that threaten to disrupt the availability and cost of the technologies, as well as the workforce which manufactures them.

“America has a clear opportunity to build back our domestic supply chain and manufacturing sectors, so we can capture the full benefits of an emerging US$23tn global clean energy economy,” said Granholm. “The American Jobs Plan will unlock massive opportunities for US businesses as it spurs innovation and demand for technologies—like vehicle batteries and battery storage—creating clean energy jobs for all.”

Granholm, joined by US Representative, Mike Doyle, addressed recommendations of the recently released National Blueprint for Lithium Batteries 2021-2030, which lays out critical goals and key actions to guide Federal agency collaboration to accelerate and support a resilient domestic lithium battery supply chain. The blueprint, developed by the Federal Consortium for Advanced Batteries (FCAB), underscores the need for strong collaboration across Federal government, US academic institutions, national laboratories, industrial stakeholders and international allies.

“The Administration’s commitment to bringing back manufacturing and supply chains we need here in America is not only commendable but essential,” added Representative Doyle.

“Our national security and economic prosperity depend on it. I believe the battery manufacturing industry can be an example to others that with smart Federal investments, the private sector can bring manufacturing to the United States. That would be great for our economy and great for our workers.”

During the roundtable discussion, supply-chain participants shared both the challenges and opportunities of their ongoing operations and plans for growing their operations in the US.

“The goals for electrification are at risk to the limitations in the supply chain,” noted Redwood Materials CEO, JB Straubel.

“We see an incredible opportunity in resource recovery, so we don’t lose resources already in the product supply chain and don’t export them in ways that don’t benefit our local competitiveness.”

“We’re focused on inventing and scaling the technologies that most efficiently recover materials from lithium-ion batteries and reuse them with high utilisation.”

For her part, Applied Materials director, Subra Herle, said: “The US does not currently have the complete supply chain for lithium-ion battery manufacturing.”

“Government can help bring pieces together to make this happen, help increase innovation and fund the supply chain consortium of stakeholders across the value chain, as has been done in the semiconductor industry.”

During the discussion, Granholm also announced US$200m in funding during the next five years for electric vehicles, batteries and connected vehicle projects at Department of Energy (DOE) national labs, which will support electric vehicle innovation and decarbonise the transportation sector, the top source of greenhouse gas emissions in the US.

The funding is open to DOE’s network of 17 national laboratories and is administered by DOE’s Vehicle Technologies Office.