Ames National Laboratory and partners to launch critical materials research facility

April 17, 2024

April 17, 2024

Ames National Laboratory, Iowa, USA, will partner with eight other DOE National Laboratories to support the Critical Materials Supply Chain Research Facility recently announced by the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management. Ames Lab will lead the Critical Materials Refinery Center, one of four centres to be established in the facility.

The Minerals to Materials Supply Chain Research Facility (METALLIC) will be led by the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL). Together, they will focus on ensuring the resilient, diverse, and secure domestic supply of critical minerals and materials.

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Critical materials are essential ingredients in many clean-energy, defence, transportation, and commercial technologies, and include rare earth metals, lithium, cobalt, and others. High demand, lack of domestic sources and processing, and geopolitical instability can disrupt material supply chains.

Ames National Laboratory’s global reputation in rare earth science, high-purity metal and alloy refining, and critical materials research, coupled with its strong tradition of translating lab-scale discovery science to commercial adoption makes the Lab well-suited to support the mission of METALLIC, said Tom Lograsso, the director of Ames Lab’s Critical Materials Innovation Hub (CMI), which accelerates the innovation of technological solutions to critical materials supply challenges.

“Our recognised research strengths and successful track record in commercialising new technologies at Ames Lab make us valuable partners in METALLIC,” stated Lograsso. “We will be combining our decades of expertise with new capabilities so that we can collaborate and innovate with METALLIC partners to address current and emerging critical materials supply challenges.”

Ames National Laboratory will support METALLIC by standing up new facilities that support mid-scale refining, separations technologies, and advanced alloy processing. As part of the proposal, Ames will lead the Critical Materials Refinery Center which is intended to:

  • Allow users to develop economical, energy-efficient, and environmentally friendly critical materials refining technologies
  • Integrate advanced diagnostics and data analytics into critical materials refining, making real-time process monitoring and control possible
  • Foster collaboration with stakeholders to develop commercially scalable solutions to fill technology and capability gaps that currently limit critical materials supply chains.

“The Critical Materials Refinery Center will create a national resource that provides key solutions to critical material supply challenges,” said Ryan Ott, who will be the Critical Materials Refinery Center lead. “These powerful new capabilities will allow us to work with partners across the nation to bridge mid-scale processing to commercial adoption of new refining technologies needed to support critical materials supply chains.”

The importance of critical materials to economic and national security requires accelerating discovery-to-deployment, which has long been the hallmark of Ames Laboratory research, said Ott.

“Supporting resilient and sustainable critical material supply chains has been intrinsic to Ames Laboratory’s research for decades,” he added. “We are inspired by the goals of METALLIC, and excited to for this new opportunity to realise resilient and sustainable critical material supply chains.”

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April 17, 2024

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