U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu has announced plans to invest up to $120 million over five years to launch a new Energy Innovation Hub, establishing a multidisciplinary and sustained effort to identify problems and develop solutions across the lifecycle of critical materials.
Rare earth elements and other critical materials have unique chemical and physical characteristics, including magnetic, catalytic, and luminescent properties that are important for a growing number of energy technologies. These critical materials are also at risk for supply disruptions. The Hub, funded by up to $20 million in Fiscal Year 2012, will work to advance U.S. leadership in energy manufacturing -- such as electric vehicles, wind turbines, efficient lighting, and others -- through research aimed both at having a reliable supply of rare earths and other critical materials, as well as finding efficiencies and alternatives that reduce the amount we actually need.
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.
Universities, national laboratories, nonprofit organizations, and private firms are eligible to compete and are encouraged to form partnerships when submitting their proposals. The award selection is expected this fall.
Full press release from Department of Energy
Funding Opportunity Announcement