Renewed funding announced for Critical Materials Institute led by Ames National Lab


August 24, 2023

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Technologies Office (AMMTO) has announced renewed funding for the Critical Materials Institute (CMI), an Energy Innovation Hub. With a potential $30 million per year over five years for this third phase of the Hub, CMI will further its mission to accelerate innovative scientific and technological solutions to develop resilient and secure supply chains for materials critical to the manufacturing of clean energy technologies.

The DOE is seeking to secure America’s clean energy technology supply chains. This ongoing investment in an energy innovation hub is designed to move critical materials research and development efforts closer to industry adoption.

Launched in 2013 and led by the Ames National Laboratory, CMI is comprised of three other DOE national laboratories, 15 universities and 36 industry members. At its core, CMI leverages crosscutting research from these partners to diversify supply, develop substitutes, and drive recycling and reuse of critical materials. This consortium model has successfully integrated multidisciplinary teams that combine basic and applied research to accelerate the development of solutions to critical scientific and technological challenges.

“Critical materials are the building blocks of the transition to a net-zero energy future,” said AMMTO Director Dr. Christopher Saldaña. “With mineral demand for clean energy technologies expected to rise by at least 400 percent by 2040 to meet global climate goals, CMI’s renewal and the launch of Phase III is poised to meet the moment of the nation’s clean energy needs by developing solutions across the materials lifecycle.”

The renewal goes hand-in-hand with DOE’s recent Critical Materials Assessment and corresponding List of Critical Materials. In CMI’s Phase III of operations, the proposed scope consists of investigating opportunities for diversification, substitutions, and recyclability of various materials on the critical material list that are necessary for permanent magnets, lithium batteries, semiconductors and electrolyzers and catalysts. These technologies will facilitate cleaner electricity generation, energy conversion, energy storage and electronics. Phase III goals also include refreshing research and development project portfolio priorities, developing a community benefits plan and enhancing and education and workforce development program.

In Phase III CMI plans to initiate 30 projects primarily focusing on materials that build on the success of earlier CMI research. Phases I and II resulted in 585 publications, 195 invention disclosures, 41 awarded patents, 20 licensed technologies to industry, and 7 R&D 100 Awards, as well as over $80 million in follow-on funding secured by research partnerships to mature CMI-developed technologies. Examples of follow-on investments through DOE and include two Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase II projects that have built pilot facilities to advance critical material recycling from electronic waste, several Technology Commercialization Fund (TCF) projects to de-risk technology in partnership with industry on magnet manufacturing and substitution, and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) funding to build battery recycling facilities that incorporate CMI-developed technology.

Photo courtesy of Ames.


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