DOE to Launch an Energy Innovation Hub for Critical Materials Research

June 6, 2012

The Energy Department announced on May 31 its plans to invest up to $120 million over five years in a new Energy Innovation Hub that will identify problems and develop solutions across the lifecycle of critical materials. Rare earth elements and other critical materials have unique chemical and physical characteristics—including magnetic, catalytic, and luminescent properties—that are important for a growing number of energy technologies. These critical materials are also at risk for supply disruptions. The new hub, funded by up to $20 million in Fiscal Year 2012, will carry out research aimed both at having a reliable U.S. supply of rare earths and other critical materials, as well as finding efficiencies and alternatives that reduce the amount of critical materials that are needed. The work will aim to advance U.S. leadership in energy-related manufacturing, including the production of electric vehicles, wind turbines, efficient lights, and other products.

Universities, national laboratories, nonprofit organizations, and private firms are eligible to compete and are encouraged to form partnerships when submitting their proposals. The award selection is expected this fall. This will be the fifth Energy Innovation Hub established by the Energy Department since 2010. See the Energy Department press release, the Energy Innovation Hubs website, and the funding opportunity announcement.