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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • Passing the Torch – Change in Leadership at Critical Materials Institute (CMI)

    There’s a lot going on in the realm of critical minerals these days – and that does not only apply to policy, but also personnel changes.

    After five years of building and leading the Critical Materials Institute (CMI), a Department of Energy research hub under the auspices of Ames Laboratory, its Director Dr. Alex King is stepping down towards the end of this month. Ames Laboratory has announced that King will be succeeded by Dr. Chris Haase, who currently serves as Senior Director for New Business Creation at GE ventures, and previously served in several other roles focused on “early-stage technology and product development.”

    King can look back at five very successful years at the helm of CMI. The hub was created in 2013 with the goal of “bring[ing] together the best and brightest research minds from universities, national laboratories and the private sector to find innovative technology solutions that will help us avoid a supply shortage [for critical minerals] that would threaten our clean energy industry as well as our security interests.”

    Under King’s leadership, CMI has indeed become the nation’s “premier research, development and deployment institute for critical materials, alloys, oxides and processing solutions,” prompting us at ARPN to closely follow its activities and dedicate our blog feature series “Materials Science Profiles of Progress” to the public-private partnerships CMI and Ames Laboratory have engaged in to further the cause of alleviating our critical mineral resource supply challenges.

    Since 2013, the research hub has engaged in at least 36 collaborative research projects. While most of these were initially focused on Rare Earth Elements, Ames Lab recently announced that CMI will be expanding its research on tech metals “as rapid growth in electric vehicles drives demand for lithium, cobalt,” focusing on maximizing the efficiency of processing, usage and recycling of Lithium and Cobalt starting this summer.

    Among the projects ARPN has so far featured are:

    Haase, who will officially take over on June 25, plans to “use his unique blend of technical knowledge and operational planning to expand CMI’s diversity of funding sponsors to ensure the long-term sustainability of the Institute,” and is “excited to help CMI continue to increase its partnerships and collaborations on innovative projects that bridge fundamental and applied sciences for market-relevant technological breakthroughs.”

    Congratulations to Alex King on a great five years at the helm of CMI, and we look forward to seeing Haase “help CMI continue to increase its partnerships and collaborations on innovative projects that bridge fundamental and applied sciences for market-relevant technological breakthroughs.”

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  • Materials Science Profiles of Progress: CMI Expands Collaborative Research Focus to Include Lithium and Cobalt

    The Critical Materials Institute (CMI), a Department of Energy research hub under the auspices of Ames Laboratory, is expanding its research on tech metals “as rapid growth in electric vehicles drives demand for lithium, cobalt.”

    According to a recent Ames Lab press release, the Institute will focus on maximizing the efficiency of processing, usage and recycling of Lithium and Cobalt starting this summer.

    Says CMI Director Alex King:

    “The global tech economy is heating up, and we’re likely to see high demand for a growing number of materials. We are trying to anticipate possible short-term supply issues through specifically targeted research and industry partnerships.”

    Since the research hub’s launch in 2013, it has engaged in 36 separate collaborative projects, most of which were initially focused on REEs.  CMI points out that while REEs will remain a key focal area, there is good reason to look beyond:

     “Other key manufacturing material supplies are in need of the Hub’s fast-moving collaborative approach. Research from National Laboratories and academic institutions is combined with engineering know-how from manufacturers, economic analyses, and assistance from AI and machine learning to rapidly find solutions to domestic shortages of manufacturing materials.

    The list of materials under CMI’s scrutiny has expanded to include not only lithium and cobalt, but also manganese, vanadium, gallium, indium, tellurium, platinum group metals, and graphite.”

    The advances of material science, which will yield new battery, solar cell and fuel cell technologies, will continue to drive demand for these materials.  CMI Deputy Director Rod Eggert points to associated possible supply challenges, and specifically the Co-Product challenge ARPN has recently outlined in a new report. Says Eggert:

    “These [materials] present possible supply challenges for a number of reasons.  Some of them are produced in small quantity as by-products of other mining processes; some are subject to unstable geopolitical conditions.” 

    In its research efforts, CMI relies on collaboration with academia as well as the private sector – an approach that has already yielded some great breakthroughs, several of which we have featured in our “Materials Science Profiles of Progress” series on the ARPN blog.

    To learn more about the above-referenced Co-Product challenge, read ARPN’s most recent report entitled “Through the Gateway. A Look at how Gateway Metals and their Co-Products Underpin Modern Technology”

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  • Materials Science Profiles of Progress: CMI Announces New Partnership to Recover REEs from E-Waste

    A new year, a new installment of our Materials Science Profiles of Progress series: The Critical Materials Institute (CMI), a U.S. Department of Energy Innovation Hub under the auspices of Ames Laboratory has announced a new collaboration entered into by one of its industry associates to recover Rare Earth Elements (REEs) from electronic waste.  Momentum [...]
  • 2017 – a Year of Mixed Signals: No Grand Strategy – But Some Signs We May Be Digging Out of Our Resource Dependency

    Amidst the chaos of Christmas shopping, holiday parties and travel arrangements, the end of the year is customarily the time to take stock of the last twelve months and assess where to go from here. Here is our recap of 2017: On the heels of a year that very much presented itself as a mixed [...]
  • “Materials Science Profiles of Progress” – REE Extraction From Coal

    In the fairy tale realm, Rumpelstilskin was able to turn straw into gold. Meanwhile, in the real world, as part of our feature series “Materials Science Profiles of Progress,” we’re taking a closer look at a recently-announced research partnership that may not be able to turn straw into gold, but promises to extract precious Rare [...]
  • Materials Science Profiles of Progress: CMI Public-Private Partnership Studies New Ways to Capture Gateway Metals and Critical Co-Products

    As part of our latest feature series “Materials Science Profiles of Progress,” in the context of which we highlight positive steps towards the development of the comprehensive mineral resource strategy our country is so sorely lacking, we’re zeroing in on a promising public private partnership that recently celebrated its first birthday. In October of last [...]
  • Materials Science Profiles of Progress – Researchers Turn to Bioengineered Bacteria to Recover REEs

    Followers of ARPN are well aware that we have been calling out policy makers and other stakeholders for their inaction when it comes to working towards the development of a coherent, forward-looking and comprehensive mineral resource strategy – and we frequently point to missed opportunities to work towards this goal. While we stand by our [...]

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