US Department of Defense (DoD) officials in charge of the government’s manufacturing capability expansion policy have agreed to invest $37.5m in America’s domestic graphite supply chain – a critical material for large-scale batteries across defence.

The industrial agreement, using funds appropriated from the Inflation Reduction Act, will aid Graphite One, a Canadian company that operates in Alaska, in developing a domestic advanced supply chain solution.

DoD funds will help Graphite One fast-track their feasibility study by a full year.

The provider’s supply chain strategy includes mining from Graphite Creek and processing the graphite ore through an advanced material and battery anode. The company’s strategy includes plans for a recycling facility to reclaim battery materials, to be co-located at the advanced materials manufacturing site; the third link in the supplier’s circular economy strategy.

“Graphite One is honored to receive this award from the Department of Defense, and we look forward to commencing the accelerated Feasibility Study program immediately,” Anthony Huston, founder and CEO of Graphite One, stated.

“This DoD grant underscores our confidence in our strategy to build a 100% US-based advanced graphite supply chain – from mining to refining to recycling. The US simply cannot maintain a 21st century tech-driven economy without Critical Minerals like graphite.”

Graphite Creek mine is located on Seward Peninsula, 59km north of Nome, Alaska. The mine will produce high-grade coated spherical graphite, which is in great demand due to the adoption of lithium-ion batteries.

The minerals at the deposit are considered superior based on their high-graphite grade, overall size, percentage of large-flake graphite, near-surface mineralisation and other infrastructure availability factors.

Graphite and batteries in aerospace and defence

Now that the world is de-carbonising, batteries have become a major sustainable energy source across society and defence, from electric vehicles to uncrewed aerial systems and communication devices among many others.

According to GlobalData’s thematic research report on Batteries (2022), China’s control of the entire global battery supply chain, from mines and refiners to component markers and cell producers, is a mounting geopolitical issue. The US and Europe are taking significant steps to reduce the dependence on China within their batteries supply chain by the end of the decade.

As the reverberations of a potential conflict between the US and China looms, batteries are another major part of their ongoing technology war, alongside semi-conductors, quantum technologies and artificial intelligence.