Rare earth metals and other critical materials are essential to manufacturing wind turbines.
Rare earth metals and other critical materials are essential to manufacturing wind turbines.

The team specialises in critical materials research and development, from mining to separations, alloy formulations, component and systems development, and materials recycling.

A new research centre, called the Critical Materials Institute (CMI), will be set up to bring together researchers from academia, four Department of Energy national laboratories and the private sector. The centre will look into enabling new sources of rare earth metals, improving the economics of existing sources, accelerating material development and deploymen,t and examine more efficient use in manufacturing and recycling and reuse, and develop strategies to assess and address the life cycles of new materials.

“Rare earth metals and other critical materials are essential to manufacturing wind turbines, electric vehicles, advanced batteries and a host of other products that are essential to America’s energy and national security,” said David Danielson, Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “The Critical Materials Institute will bring together the best and brightest research minds from universities, national laboratories and the private sector to find innovative technology solutions that will help us avoid a supply shortage that would threaten our clean energy industry as well as our security interests.”

The DOE’s 2011 Critical Materials Strategy reported that supply challenges for five rare earth metals (dysprosium, terbium, europium, neodymium and yttrium) could affect clean energy technology deployment in the US over the next few years. In recent years, DOE and others have begun to address these challenges. DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy and Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy has supported more than US$40 million in magnet, motor, and generator research.

Other labs partnering with Ames include: Idaho National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. University and research partners include: Brown University, the Colorado School of Mines, Purdue University, Rutgers University, University of California-Davis, Iowa State University, and Florida Industrial and Phosphate Research Institute. Industry partners that have joined to help advance CMI developed technologies include: General Electric, OLI Systems, Inc, SpinTek Filtration, Inc, Advanced Recovery, Cytec, Inc, Molycorp, Inc and Simbol Materials.

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