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DOE seeks input on US critical materials

Issues RFI for $675 million Critical Materials Research Program Metal Tech News – August 10, 2022

Recognizing the meteoric rise in demand for minerals and metals critical to electric vehicles, renewable energy, and the American economy at large, the U.S. Department of Energy is requesting public input on the development and implementation of a $675 million critical materials research, development, demonstration, and commercialization program.

Funded by the $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, this program is being established to address vulnerabilities in the domestic critical materials supply chain, which are both an economic disadvantage and an impediment to the clean energy transition.

"The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is supporting DOE's effort to invest in the building blocks of clean energy technologies, which will revitalize America's manufacturing leadership and bring along the benefits of good paying jobs," said Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm.

Critical materials such as cobalt, graphite, lithium, nickel, and rare earth elements are required for manufacturing many clean energy technologies, including batteries, EVs, solar panels, and wind turbines.

DOE says global demand for these materials critical to low-carbon energy and other technologies is expected to climb by 400 to 600% over the coming decades. For certain materials, such as the lithium and graphite needed for batteries powering the EV revolution, the energy department foresees demand rocketing by as much as 4,000%.

For most of the critical minerals and metals required for EVs and clean energy technologies, the annual demand over the coming two decades is expected to be several times more than what is produced at all mines currently in operation worldwide.

This has created fierce competition as global governments, automakers, battery manufacturers, and the larger global industrial complex position themselves to secure supplies of these critical materials.

To address this challenge in the U.S., DOE says it has a comprehensive strategy to increase domestic raw materials production and manufacturing capacity, which would reduce America's dependence on foreign sources of critical materials, secure America's clean energy supply chain, and introduce more jobs associated with the clean energy transition.

"We can follow through on President Biden's clean energy commitments and make our nation more secure by increasing our ability to source, process, and manufacture critical materials right here at home," said Granholm.

DOE says the $675 million Critical Materials Research Program will expand on the department's decade-long history of investment in critical materials supply chains. This includes funding for materials science, critical materials separation, and geoscience research; public-private partnerships like the Critical Materials Institute, an innovation hub led by Ames Laboratory to accelerate scientific and technological solutions for the development of secure supply chains for rare earths and other materials critical to clean energy technologies; and demonstration projects to validate and commercialize new critical materials technologies.

Toward its goal of strengthening America's position as a global manufacturing leader, DOE has issued a request for information soliciting feedback from industry, academia, research laboratories, government agencies, state and local coalitions, labor unions, tribes, community-based organizations, and others, on the structure of the initiatives within the Critical Materials Research Program. The department is also seeking input on the timing and distribution of funds, as well as selection criteria.

Comments can be submitted by email to: [email protected] until 5:00 pm EST on Sept. 9.

In addition to this RFI, DOE is requesting information regarding clean energy projects. You can read the release at DOE seeks input for clean energy projects in this week's edition of Metal Tech News.

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Shane Lasley, Metal Tech News

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With more than 16 years of covering mining, Shane is renowned for his insights and and in-depth analysis of mining, mineral exploration and technology metals.

 

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