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US energy department grants $120m for energy innovation hub, rare earth metals research

CTBR Staff Writer Published 11 January 2013

A team led by the Iowa State University-run Ames Laboratory has been selected by the US energy department for a $120m award to establish an Energy Innovation Hub.

The hub, to be called Critical Materials Institute (CMI), will have a mandate to develop solutions to meet the anticipated shortage in rare earth metals and other materials that are critical for the nation's energy security.

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy assistant secretary David Danielson remarked that the rare earth metals are essential to the manufacturing of wind turbines, electric vehicles and advanced batteries.

"The Critical Materials Institute will bring together the best and brightest research minds from universities, national laboratories and the private sector to find innovative technology solutions that will help us avoid a supply shortage that would threaten our clean energy industry as well as our security interests," added Danielson.

US Senator Tom Harkin noted the facility will be equipped to handle the full spectrum of critical materials research and development, from mining to separations, alloy formulations, component and systems development, and materials recycling.

"This team will enable the United States to continue as a global leader in research and development in diverse technologies such as communications, control systems and advanced energy systems," said Harkin.

CMI is the fifth energy innovation hub established by the Energy Department and selected with its participants selected through an open national competition that involved a rigorous review process.