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$675 Million Federal Program Expands Domestic Critical Materials Supply Chain

The Biden-Harris administration, through the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), has issued a Request for Information (RFI) on the development and implementation of a $675 million Critical Materials Research, Development, Demonstration and Commercialization Program. Funded by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the program will address vulnerabilities in the domestic critical materials supply chain, which are both an economic disadvantage and an impediment to the clean energy transition.

Critical materials, which include rare-earth elements, lithium, nickel and cobalt, are required for manufacturing many clean energy technologies, including batteries, electric vehicles, wind turbines and solar panels. The program will advance domestic sourcing and production.

“We can follow through on President Biden’s clean energy commitments and make our nation more secure by increasing our ability to source, process, and manufacture critical materials right here at home,” states U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is supporting DOE’s effort to invest in the building blocks of clean energy technologies, which will revitalize America’s manufacturing leadership and bring along the benefits of good paying jobs.”

Global demand for critical materials is expected to increase by 400-600% over the next several decades. For certain materials, such as lithium and graphite used in electric vehicle batteries, demand is expected to increase by as much as 4,000%. DOE’s comprehensive strategy calls for increased domestic raw-materials production and manufacturing capacity, which would reduce dependence on foreign sources of critical materials, secure America’s clean energy supply chain and introduce more jobs associated with the clean energy transition.

Established through the Energy Act of 2020 and expanded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, DOE’s Critical Materials Program will develop materials, components and technologies; promote efficient production and use, and circular economy approaches; and ensure a long-term, diverse, secure and sustainable supply of critical materials. The Critical Materials Research Program will expand on DOE’s decade-long history of investment in critical materials supply chains, which includes fundamental research on materials science, separation science, and geoscience; public-private partnerships, such as the Critical Materials Institute; and efforts to validate and commercialize new technologies through demonstration projects.

The Critical Materials Research Program RFI solicits feedback from industry, academia, research laboratories, government agencies, state and local coalitions, labor unions, tribes, community-based organizations, and others, on the structure of these programs, timing and distribution of funds, and selection criteria. Comments must be received by 5:00 p.m. ET on September 9, 2022 and can be submitted to [email protected]

Image: Sam Cumming on Unsplash

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