The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced $30 million in funding for 13 national lab and university-led research projects to develop new technologies that will help secure the supply of critical materials that build clean energy technologies. The selected research projects aim to diversify the supply of, develop substitutes for, and improve the reuse and recycling of rare earth and platinum group elements that are critical for many clean energy and high-tech applications. These materials include cobalt for electric vehicles batteries, neodymium for windmills and electronics, and platinum for emissions control and fuel production technologies.
“Expanding electric vehicle infrastructure, hardening our nation’s electrical grid, and powering our economy with millions of clean energy jobs all rely on securing supply chains of critical materials like cobalt and platinum,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “The key to our carbon-free future lies in ramping up clean American industries, building strong supply chain systems of American-made critical materials, and aggressively deploying the resulting climate technologies here and abroad.”
Rare-earth elements (REE) and platinum group elements (PGE) are key components of many clean energy and high-tech applications, including emissions control technologies and rechargeable batteries for energy storage. The limited domestic supply of critical materials and reliance on imports from other nations present a significant risk to clean energy technology production.
Research funded in this announcement will advance our understanding of how REE and PGE give materials and molecules the unique properties that are valuable for modern technologies. This research can enable new approaches to the atomic-level design of key materials and potentially reduce or even eliminate the need for these critical elements in clean energy and high-tech applications. It will also widen the range of sources of these critical elements by potentially identifying new mineral sources or facilitating reuse and recycling of existing materials.
“For more than 75 years, the scientists, engineers and researchers at Argonne National Laboratory have broken barriers, accomplished scientific milestones and uncovered monumental discoveries in energy that have benefited our entire planet. That is why I am thrilled that Argonne has received more than $2 million in grant funding to build on this historic success through the research of the rare-earth minerals we need to create cleaner, more sufficient energy,” said Rep. Marie Newman (IL-03). “This research is key to ensuring the United States has the clean energy and sustainable technology to power us through the 21st Century. We are so proud to have this cutting-edge innovation right in our own backyard, and I will continue to advocate for funding and support for Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District’s very own Argonne National Laboratory. ”
The research projects range from single Principal Investigator (PI) to multi-PI, multi-institution efforts and are led by 10 universities and 3 National Laboratories. Total funding is $30 million from DOE’s Office of Science for projects lasting up to three years in duration, with $10 million in Fiscal Year 2021 dollars.
The foundational science these projects support can impact battery and electrification projects and support the National Blueprint for Lithium Batteries’ goal of maintaining and advancing U.S. battery technology R&D leadership.
Projects were chosen based on peer review under a DOE Funding Opportunity Announcement open to universities, national laboratories, industry, and non-profit research organizations. The final details for each project award are subject to negotiations between DOE and the awardees.