Critical Materials Institute opens to advance research, energy security

This is a recap from an Ames Laboratory news release.

The official opening of the Critical Materials Institute marked the newest endeavor in intensive energy research by the U.S. Department of Energy, the Ames Laboratory and Iowa State University.

The institute is the DOE’s fifth Energy Innovation Hub, which is a major integrated research center. Researchers from diverse institutions and technical backgrounds combine basic and applied research with engineering to accelerate scientific discover in critical energy areas.

In January, the DOE announced that the Ames Lab was selected to lead the CMI with federal funding up to $120 million throughout five years. It is a collaboration of leading researchers from universities, industry members and four DOE national labs.

“Drawing from our historical strength in rare earth chemistry, metallurgical expertise and analytical capabilities,” said Ames Laboratory Interim Director Tom Lograsso, “the Critical Materials Institute will carry on the research tradition that has been the hallmark of the Ames Laboratory.”

With this opening, the DOE is launching a concerted effort to advance solutions to domestic shortages of rare-earth metals and other materials vital to U.S. energy security.

Wind turbines, solar panels, electric vehicles and energy-efficient lighting are some of the modern clean-energy technologies requiring those materials.

“A robust and innovative clean-energy sector creates new jobs, helps strengthen our economy, and ensures a cleaner and safer planet for our children,” said David Danielson, assistant secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

“The global clean-energy race is not something we can afford to lose,” Danielson said. “America must continue to make significant investments in clean-energy technologies and the Department of Energy is leaving no stone unturned in our all-of-the-above approach to solving the nation’s energy challenges.”

Iowa State University President Steven Leath commends the university’s federal partnership for leading to “incredible advancements” in fuels, new materials and environmental sustainability. He added that the partnership would continue on the path of success.

“We’re ready to tackle the challenges in ensuring that this nation, its industries and government, have a safe, stable and reliable supply of critical materials,” he said.

Critical Materials Institute Director Alex King invited Karl A. Gschneidner Jr., chief scientist for the CMI and senior and senior metallurgist for the Ames Lab, to cut the ribbon tied across the main doors of the CMI offices, located in a newly renovated wing of Wilhelm Hall on the ISU campus.

“We’re extremely proud that the Ames Laboratory and Iowa State University were selected by the Department of Energy to lead its newest hub here,” said Leath.

Read the full news release from the Ames Laboratory here.