The Critical Materials Institute is a U.S. DOE Energy Innovation Hub led by Ames Laboratory, and supports early-stage research to advance innovation in U.S. manufacturing. CMI seeks ways to eliminate and reduce reliance on rare-earth metals and other materials critical to the success of clean energy technologies and focuses on technologies that make better use of materials and eliminate the need for materials that are subject to supply disruptions.
These critical materials are essential for American competitiveness in clean energy. Many materials deemed critical by the U.S. Department of Energy are used in modern clean energy technologies, including wind turbines, solar panels, electric vehicles, and energy-efficient lighting. The Department’s 2011 Critical Materials Strategy reported that supply challenges for five rare earth metals may affect clean energy technology deployment in the coming years.
During its first five years, the Critical Materials Institute focused on these “critical” rare earths and “near-critical” materials: dysprosium, terbium, europium, neodymium and yttrium, as well as lithium and tellurium. Beginning in July 2019, CMI focuses on rare earth materials, battery materials (lithium, cobalt, manganese, graphite), indium and gallium.
Ames Laboratory leads the CMI team, which includes partners from other national laboratories, universities and industry.