The US Department of Energy (DOE) issued a Request for Information (RFI) (DE-FOA-0002794) on the development and implementation of a $675-million Critical Materials Research, Development, Demonstration, and Commercialization Program. The program will address vulnerabilities in the domestic critical materials supply chain.
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.
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 strategy calls for increased domestic raw-materials production and manufacturing capacity, which would reduce US 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, 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.