May 29, 2024

Nevada Lithium Circular Economy Conference held at University April 8 and 9

More than 150 organizations were represented during two days of conversation and collaboration focused on the Lithium Circular Economy in Nevada. At the Nevada Lithium Circular Economy Conference at the University of Nevada, Reno’s Joe Crowley Student Union, more than 300 conference registrants took part in advancing the collaborative efforts across the region to create an innovation ecosystem and boost inclusive economic growth. 

This conference was made possible by the National Science Foundation Engines Development Type-1 Award, Number 2305697, issued to the University. From this award and initial efforts has come a newly named statewide initiative – Recharge Nevada – a coalition for energy innovation. The coalition is forging a resilient future for Nevada, encompassing the many, many statewide efforts, initiatives and funded projects that align toward a common goal: An innovation economy based on the lifecycle of lithium batteries and critical materials. 

Workforce Development breakout session at lithium conference.
Economic Development (Nevada’s Battery Supply Chain: Challenges and Opportunities) breakout session led by Karsten Heise with the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development and Tatjana Vukovic with the Northern Nevada Development Authority.

“We are at the onset of our journey with Recharge Nevada, a comprehensive initiative uniting the state’s diverse efforts with those of our regional collaborators, all aimed at fostering a coordinated and cohesive approach to a circular lithium and critical materials economy,” Mridul Gautam, vice president for research and innovation for the University, said. “The state is abuzz with activity, spanning use-inspired research, workforce and economic development strategies, private-sector innovations, and educational initiatives. Recharge Nevada serves as a catalyst for advancing sustainable mining practices, reliable domestic energy storage technologies and beyond.”

The conference agenda included panel discussions on trends in battery technology, workforce and economic development, and the future needs for a successful lithium circular economy. Speakers include experts in innovation ecosystems, members of experienced research alliances, and individuals from key Nevada organizations and agencies. Breakout groups gave attendees an opportunity to learn what the key stakeholders have already been working on, and to give input and feedback to expand ideas. 

Lithium Conference Sponsors Slide.

“We have a strong innovation ecosystem in Northern Nevada, one that has amplified the strong, dynamic capabilities of a number of key action sectors throughout our state,” University President Brian Sandoval said in his opening remarks. “We see this in how the Tech Hub and NSF engines are different innovation avenues that ultimately lead to the same goals. These are two great distinctions, with one final destination – the state’s future. The University of Nevada, Reno, Northern Nevada, indeed all of Nevada; we are the epicenter for innovation. We are all playing key roles in collaborative initiatives that run through sustainable mining processes, clean, reliable domestic energy storage technologies and the creation of the human capital that fuels a surging knowledge and tech-based economy.”

The University of Nevada, Reno, the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development and Truckee Meadows Community College are partner organizations in the National Science Foundation Engines Development Award. Collaborators, colleagues and industry partners from across the state are all helping move toward joint priorities and goals for a regional economy built around the circular economy of lithium. 

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