DOE funds critical minerals research hub

By Hannah Northey | 04/03/2024 04:04 PM EDT

The facility is expected to support initiatives to expand supplies of critical minerals and materials and improve recycling.

Department of Energy headquarters in Washington.

The Department of Energy headquarters in Washington. Francis Chung/POLITICO

The Energy Department and national labs are creating a new research facility dedicated to studying ways of securing materials needed to produce wind turbines, solar panels, electric vehicles and more.

DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management on Tuesday announced that $75 million tied to the bipartisan infrastructure law to ramp up research focused on finding and producing more critical minerals and materials. DOE did not immediately respond when asked where the facility would be located and how many workers it would employ.

As it stands, the U.S. is reliant on foreign countries like China for processing valuable materials like cobalt and nickel that are needed to meet the Biden administration’s climate goals, as well as produce military equipment. According to a U.S. Geological Survey report released last year, the U.S. remains reliant on China for materials deemed critical to the energy transition. The U.S. last year imported more than half of the 49 nonfuel mineral commodities with the largest amounts coming from China.


DOE said in a release that the research facility will support governmentwide initiatives to expand and diversify supplies of critical minerals and materials and improve recycling. The administration, for example, announced $17 million earlier this year for projects aimed at producing rare earth elements and other critical minerals and materials from coal-based resources.