Missouri S&T designated Tech Hub by Biden administration
Missouri University of Science and Technology’s expertise in critical minerals and materials research has led to its selection as one of 31 Regional Innovation and Technology Hubs (Tech Hubs) funded through the CHIPS and Science Act.
The Tech Hub Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), focuses on supporting innovation and job creation in key technology areas.
Missouri S&T’s initiative is called the Critical Minerals and Materials for Advanced Energy (CM2AE) Tech Hub.
“I’m incredibly proud of Missouri S&T for leading the way in critical minerals research,” said U.S. Rep. Jason Smith, whose 8th Congressional District includes Rolla and the Tech Hub region. “South-central and southeast Missouri are hotbeds for critical minerals, so it’s only fitting to place a hub for research on how to improve critical mineral mining in this region. I’ll continue supporting the university’s important work to strengthen our domestic supply chains, create jobs at home, and solve our nation’s critical minerals challenges.”
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said that S&T’s selection as a hub is a testament to the university’s leadership related to critical minerals research.
“Missouri is a national leader in manufacturing with rich reserves in critical minerals, and we’re proud that Missouri S&T continues to be at the forefront in preparing our state for the demands of tomorrow,” said Parson. “We appreciate the University of Missouri’s leadership in supporting battery technology and innovative job opportunities for Missourians across the state.
“Whatever we need, we know Missourians can make it, and this Tech Hub will help strengthen our supply chains and lessen our reliance on foreign nations.”
Dr. Kwame Awuah-Offei, principal investigator of the S&T hub and chair of mining and explosives engineering, said this initiative will provide an economic boost to the region, while also working to solve important issues related to energy manufacturing and critical minerals.
“Our work will build on the region’s mineral-rich geography, expertise in hydrometallurgical processing and existing assets,” he said. “We will increase processing capacity to convert minerals into materials necessary for advanced energy and critical goods, including lithium-ion and primary-lead-acid batteries.
“This will make a significant difference for America’s energy manufacturers and reduce dependence on foreign critical minerals, while also creating thousands of good-paying jobs.”
More than 400 applications were submitted for potential tech hubs. Since S&T was selected as one of the top applicants, the university now qualifies for Phase 2 of the program, with applications due by late February of 2024. For this phase, EDA will award 5 to 10 grants, with each recipient receiving $40 million to $70 million.
Missouri’s 2024 budget also included $16 million for the Missouri Department of Economic Development to support S&T’s critical minerals research efforts.
Earlier this year, S&T hosted the third annual Resilient Supply of Critical Minerals national workshop through support from the National Science Foundation. The workshop brought together leaders from academia, government and the private sector to discuss the potential of mining critical minerals in the U.S., mineral processing and recycling, critical mineral policies, and sustainability.
Three of the workshop’s co-organizers are working with Awuah-Offei as co-principal investigators (PI) for the Tech Hub. Those co-PIs include:
- Dr. Lana Alagha, associate professor of mining engineering
- Dr. Marek Locmelis, associate professor of geology and geophysics and faculty fellow in research and innovation
- Dr. Michael Moats, chair of materials science and engineering
- Dr. Maciej Zawodniok, associate professor of computer engineering, is also a co-PI.
Funding for the Tech Hubs comes from $500 million Congress appropriated to EDA earlier this year to launch the program. Those funds were part of the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, which authorized $10 billion over the next five years for the Regional Technology and Innovation Hubs program. Read more from the S&T announcement here
About Missouri S&T
Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) is a STEM-focused research university of over 7,000 students located in Rolla, Missouri. Part of the four-campus University of Missouri System, Missouri S&T offers over 100 degrees in 40 areas of study and is among the nation’s top public universities for salary impact, according to the Wall Street Journal. For more information about Missouri S&T, visit www.mst.edu