The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced the launch of the Microbattery Design Prize. This two-stage competition will award up to $1.1 million in federal funding and performance and safety testing services with DOE national laboratories to innovative small-capacity battery design projects that will yield improved performance, safety, and recyclability.
The purpose of this design prize is to advance innovative new designs for microbatteries and accelerate their commercialization and integration into existing technologies needed for clean energy manufacturing, like sensor systems for improved smart manufacturing processes, and sensors for grid monitoring of renewable energy sources as the nation continues its transition to clean energy future.
Because of the requirements associated with their small size, the microbattery market is unable to leverage many of the existing manufacturing processes of the larger battery supply chain ecosystem. This presents a major barrier to the development and commercialization of new microbattery chemistries and designs, along with an opportunity to increase domestic production and secure supply chains. Not only are microbatteries crucial for clean energy manufacturing scale-up and smart technology innovation, but some manufacturing innovations resulting from this design prize could be applied to larger batteries as well. Microbatteries are also critical components of non-energy-related technologies that society relies on, such as wearable and implantable medical devices, meaning the resultant designs of this prize could affect innovation across multiple industries.
This announcement marks the opening of the first of two phases in the Microbattery Design Prize.
- Phase 1: Idea
The first phase will select the best ideas for a new microbattery design. During Phase 1, competitors will develop and submit technical designs and schematics for microbatteries that serve a specific application (like a grid monitoring devices) and meet certain performance goals (like a specific storage capacity, cycle lifetime, safety, or recyclability) that go beyond what is commercially available today.
- Phase 2: Test
During this second phase, competitors will create prototypes they can submit to DOE national labs for performance and safety testing. Competitors will also work to determine potential cost to manufacture their designs at scale. By the end of this contest, participants will develop a realistic plan to commercialize and manufacture their technology. Note: Only selectees from phase I will be eligible for participation in phase II.
Applications for Phase 1 are due on July 1, 2023, at 5:00 p.m. ET. DOE anticipates making up to six awards in Phase 1, each consisting of a $75,000 cash prize and performance and safety testing services with DOE National Laboratories. Learn more about the prize, including deadlines and how to apply. DOE will hold an informational webinar on April 12, 2023, at 12:00 p.m. ET.
The Microbattery Design Prize is led by DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Technologies Office (AMMTO) and managed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Visit the Microbattery Design Prize page on the American-Made Challenges website for more information.