- Small Business
- Energy Infrastructure
- Environmental Clean-up
- Transportation Infrastructure
Reserved for Energy
Creating a circular EV battery supply chain focuses on optimizing the full vehicle life cycle. Thus, the emphasis must shift from production and sales within an ownership model to a model focusing on customers’ mobility needs and access in the form of leasing, as it exists today, vehicle-on-demand, and mobility-on-demand. These different business models may coexist but will require increasing collaboration and transparency among different actors, while costs and revenues will be distributed across the supply chain.
A circular supply chain offers new revenue streams and business opportunities by providing services to maximize EVs’ lifetime performance through:
- Enhancing regular predictive maintenance;
- Repairing and remanufacturing of battery modules and packs;
- Improving the reuse and recovery of EOL parts and materials; and
- Minimizing carbon footprint and maximizing resource efficiency.
A circular supply chain also offers opportunities to reduce production and operating costs by:
- Improving the quality and stability of critical minerals’ supply chains through cell regeneration, reuse, and recycling;
- Facilitating rework, reuse, repair, and remanufacture of batteries through modular designs, reversible manufacturing materials and methods; and
- Reducing asset costs per unit amount of energy delivered owing to the retention of the embedded manufacturing value of batteries, their prolonged lifetime, and the extended use of EVs.
The overarching goal of the CIRCULAR program is to apply a circular economy to the domestic EV battery supply chain by supporting the development of innovative solutions that can overcome both the technological and economic barriers to broad commercial adoption. CIRCULAR acknowledges that simultaneous advancements in multiple technological domains may be required to accomplish this ambitious objective. Therefore, the program is intentionally structured into four technology development categories designed to converge towards the creation of a domestic circular supply chain for EV batteries.
The CIRCULAR program recognizes that conventional recycling is not the only, nor primary, pathway to closing the supply chain loop. Therefore, the primary objective of this program is to catalyze the creation of a circular EV battery supply chain in North America. The program will support the development and deployment of foundational technologies capable of maintaining materials and products in circulation at their highest level of performance and safety for as long as possible. Achieving this goal will directly impact ARPA-E mission areas as follows:
- Decrease Energy-Related Imports: The CIRCULAR program aims to reduce the import of critical battery materials, cells, packs, and EVs by establishing new supply chain loops within the U.S. Currently, individual steps in the battery supply chain (mining, material processing, cell component assembly, battery cell manufacturing, and recycling) are concentrated mostly outside of the U.S.
- Reduce Emissions: The CIRCULAR program aims to decrease the domestic energy burden and carbon footprint of the EV battery supply chain by extending the service life of battery cells and packs and by maintaining manufacturing value to the greatest extent possible through regeneration, repair, reuse, and remanufacture. The program will also reduce emissions associated with battery recycling by minimizing the amount of waste and by recycling only pack components that have reached their EOL.
- Improve Energy Efficiency: The CIRCULAR program aims to minimize energy and material consumption within the battery supply chain and to exploit opportunities to improve energy efficiency through innovative battery design, material regeneration, and/or manufacturing strategies.
The CIRCULAR program will have three categories:
- Category A seeks innovations in battery cell materials, designs, regeneration methods, and corresponding manufacturing techniques to prolong battery service life.
- Category B seeks innovations in battery pack designs, materials, and reversible manufacturing methods as well as fast and safe disassembly techniques to recover manufacturing value of cells and pack components.
- Category C seeks innovations in cell-level sensing, data analytics, and battery intelligence systems for circularity and safety.
ARPA-E encourages submissions stemming from ideas that still require proof-of-concept R&D efforts as well as those for which some proof-of-concept demonstration already exists.