Energy Innovation Hub Launched for Breakthroughs in Critical Materials

The Department of Energy (DOE) announced it will invest $120 million over five years in its fifth Energy Hub, the Critical Materials Hub.

This Hub will focus multidisciplinary research on critical materials such as rare earths, which are crucial for a growing number of energy technologies and face supply disruptions. 

Starting this year, it will work reduce US dependence on critical materials and ensure the deployment of domestic clean technologies aren’t hindered by materials supply shortages. The Hub will address challenges across the entire life of each critical material including mineral processing, manufacture, substitution, efficient use, and end-of-life recycling.

First established in 2010, DOE’s Energy Innovation Hubs bring together teams of scientists and engineers across intellectual disciplines to rapidly accelerate scientific discoveries and shorten the path from lab to technological development and commercial deployment of critical energy technologies.

They are modeled on the Manhattan Project, Lincoln Lab at MIT that developed radar, AT&T Bell Laboratories that developed the transistor and, more recently, the highly successful Bioenergy Research Centers established during the Bush Administration to pioneer advanced techniques in biotechnology, including biofuels.

The Critical Materials Hub builds on the Department’s Critical Materials Strategy report, which addresses the use of rare earths and other critical materials in clean energy components, products, and processes.

The other Energy Innovation Hubs are:

  • The Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis, which focuses on revolutionary methods to produce fuels directly from sunlight. 
  • The Consortium for Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors, which is seeking to improve nuclear reactors through sophisticated computer-based modeling and simulation.
  • The Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster for Energy-Efficient Buildings, which is working to achieve major breakthroughs in energy efficient building design.
  • The Batteries and Energy Storage Innovation Hub is working on cutting-edge technologies that can improve grid reliability and efficiency, better integrate renewable energy into the grid, and improve the power while reducing the cost of batteries used in electric and hybrid vehicles.

Universities, national laboratories, nonprofit organizations, and private firms are eligible to compete and are encouraged to form partnerships when submitting proposals. The award selection is expected this fall. The full Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is available HERE.

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