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ORNL partners on critical materials hub


The Critical Materials Institute builds on the Department of Energy’s Critical Materials Strategy report, which addresses the use of rare earths and other critical materials in clean energy components, products, and processes. December 2011. Credit: U.S. DOE.

ORNL wins big as part of a team led by Ames Labora­tory, which was selected for an Energy Innovation Hub to address shortages of critical materials, including rare earth metals. The award of up to $120 million over five years for the Critical Materials Institute involves four national labs, academia, and industrial partners.

ORNL will play a key role in conducting the CMI's mis­sion to eliminate materials criticality as an impediment to the commercialization of clean energy technologies. Working with other CMI partners, ORNL will lead efforts for diversifying supply of critical materials with emphasis on developing more efficient separation processes for im­proving material yield as well as developing processes for other sources of rare earths. In addition, the lab will serve as deputy lead of substitutions for critical materials to replace the rare earths in such applications as permanent magnet­ics and lighting. Activities will also encompass additive manufacturing in order to reduce the amount of rare earth materials for permanent magnetics and utilizing magnetic field processing to determine the effects of magnetic fields on the growth of rare earth containing magnetic alloys.

Other national labs partnering with Ames and ORNL include Idaho National Laboratory and Lawrence Liver­more 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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