DOE allots $150M for critical minerals
Opens funding opportunity for responsible domestic supplies Metal Tech News - September 6, 2023
Last updated 9/18/2023 at 2:11pm
Seeking to curb the United States' heavy dependence on imports for critical minerals, the U.S. Department of Energy is investing $150 million to support the domestic production of these mined materials essential to clean energy, high-tech manufacturing, and the nation's general economic well-being.
"The investments announced today enhance national security by reducing our reliance on foreign sources-while strengthening an existing mining and energy workforce to develop sustainable sourcing for these vital materials right here in the U.S.A.," said Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm.
The U.S. is 100% reliant on foreign countries for 12 of the 50 critical minerals outlined by the U.S. Geological Survey and more than 50% import-dependant for another 30.
Many of these critical minerals are key inputs for solar panels, wind turbines, electric vehicles, hydrogen fuel cells and other clean energy technologies needed to achieve America's ambitious climate goals.
"The President's Investing in America agenda is ramping up access and use of clean energy technologies which means increased demand for critical minerals and materials," Granholm added.
America's critical import dependence, and the geopolitical implications that come with that, grabbed national media attention when China announced that it is emplacing state-controlled restrictions on the exports of gallium and germanium.
Gallium serves as a primary ingredient in semiconductors vital to next-generation smartphones, telecommunication networks, automobile electronics, LED lights, thin-film solar panels, and medical devices.
Germanium is a powerful ingredient in fiber optics, night vision equipment, triple-layered solar panels, and transistors for classic and quantum computers.
Various semiconductor products made from both critical tech metals are used to manufacture computer chips in virtually every electronic device.
According to the USGS, China produced 98% of the world's gallium and provided the US with 54% of its imported germanium during 2022.
Under the Sept. 6 funding opportunity announcement, DOE is seeking projects that will help to build a secure, sustainable domestic supply of critical minerals from a broad range of domestic sources such as recycled materials, mine waste, industrial waste, and ore deposits.
Specifically, this $150 million in funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will support bench- and pilot-scale research, development, and demonstration projects for:
• Technologies or process improvements that can offer new domestic supplies of critical minerals and materials.
• Value-added products created from the waste streams generated during critical minerals production.
• Next-generation technologies for lower cost and environmentally responsible extraction, production, separation, and processing of critical minerals.
• Alternatives or substitutes for scarce critical minerals and materials for clean energy technologies.
• New or improved alternative energy technologies or designs that use materials that are more abundant in the U.S.
The deadline for applying for this critical minerals funding opportunity is Nov. 10 at 3:00 pm Eastern Standard Time. Further details can be found at Opportunity: Critical Material Innovation, Efficiency, and Alternatives.