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The Department of Energy’s Critical Materials Strategy

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) supports a proactive and comprehensive approach to address the challenges associated with the use of rare earth elements and other critical materials in clean energy technologies. In 2010 the Department developed its first-ever Critical Materials Strategy based on three strategic pillars: 1) diversifying global supply chains to mitigate supply risk; 2) developing material and technology substitutes; and 3) promoting recycling, reuse and more efficient use to significantly lower global demand for critical materials. In 2011 DOE updated its criticality assessments and provided in-depth market and technology analyses in response to important developments during the year. DOE will continue to explore a variety program and policy directions, as appropriate, to address the challenges and opportunities across the critical materials supply chain.

Critical Materials Hub
The Hub is intended to address challenges in critical materials, including mineral processing, manufacture, substitution, efficient use, and end-of-life recycling; integrate scientific research, engineering innovation, manufacturing and process improvements; and find a holistic solution to the materials challenges facing the nation.

The Critical Materials Hub, called the Critical Materials Institute (CMI), is led by Ames National Laboratory and a team of research partners. CMI has organized its research in four mutually supporting focus areas: 1) diversify supply; 2) develop substitutes; 3) improve reuse and recycling; and 4) conduct crosscutting research.

To learn more about the Critical Materials Hub and other DOE Energy Innovation Hubs, click here.

To go to the Critical Materials Institute, click here.

Interagency Collaborations

DOE is a co-chair of the Subcommittee on Critical and Strategic Mineral Supply Chains, which was established in December 2010 by the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Sustainability (CENRS).  The Subcommittee facilitates a strong, coordinated effort across federal agencies to identify and address important policy implications arising from strategic minerals supply issues.  The Subcommittee has a public Request for Information (RFI) open on Critical and Strategic Materials Supply Chains until September 30, 2014. 

To read the blog describing the RFI, click here.

To read the RFI, click here.

International Collaborations

DOE is pursuing opportunities for international discussion and collaboration on research topics of shared interest. Since 2010, the Department has convened multiple technical workshops on rare earth metals and other critical materials. More information on these workshops, including agendas and participant presentations, can be found below.

Annual Trilateral U.S. – EU – Japan Conference on Critical Materials for a Clean Energy Future

The conference convenes officials and experts from Japan, the European Union and the United States, as well as guests from other countries, to discuss how best to ensure an adequate supply of critical materials for a clean energy future.  In order to accelerate government-funded R&D activities in this area, policymakers and researchers come together to exchange information and collaborate effectively.

To download the agenda for the first conference (October 4-5, 2011), click here.
To download the agenda for the second conference (March 28-29, 2012), click here.
To download the agenda for the third conference (May 29-30, 2013), click here.
To download the agenda for the fourth conference (September 8-9, 2014), click here.

U.S. – Australia Joint Commission Steering Committee Meeting on Science and Technology, February 14, 2011

The Joint Commission Meeting strengthened the collaborative research relationship between Australia and the United States by establishing an overarching, strategic dialogue on science and technology.  Rare earths and critical materials were addressed in one of the concurrent workshops, which brought together experts from both countries to examine the status of the current scientific and technological links and identify opportunities for possible future collaboration.

U.S. – Japan Roundtable on Rare Earth Elements Research and Development for Clean Energy Technologies, November 18-19, 2010

This bilateral workshop was held at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and featured R&D presentations covering the full supply chain for energy technologies using rare earth elements, including geological availability, recovery, separation, extraction, manufacturing, substitutes, and recycling.

To download the agenda, click here.

To view participant presentations, click here.

Trans-Atlantic Workshop on Rare Earth Elements and Other Critical Materials for a Clean Energy Future, December 3, 2010

This meeting, held under the auspices of the U.S.-EU Energy Council and hosted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, focused on substitutes for and efficient use of critical materials.

To download the agenda, click here.

To view participant presentations, click here.

ARPA-E Workshop on Rare Earth and Critical Materials, December 6, 2010

DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) convened scientists and engineers to address technical challenges in critical material use across a variety of energy applications.

To download the agenda, click here.

Next Steps

On February 10, 2016, the Department of Energy (DOE) released a Request for Information (RFI) soliciting information on rare earth metals and other materials used in the energy sector.

The request is specifically focused on materials that are important to the development and deployment of a number of clean energy technologies, including wind turbines, electric and hybrid vehicles, photovoltaics, energy efficient light bulbs, concentrated solar power, hydropower, grid storage, fuel cells, natural gas generators, and nuclear power.  Such materials include rare earth metals (e.g., lanthanum, cerium, yttrium, and neodymium), platinum group metals, several other metals including lithium and cobalt, and those used in manufacturing that do not appear in the final product (e.g. antimony, tungsten).  Respondents are also welcome to identify other materials of interest in energy components, products, or processes. 

Building on the work of the 2010 and 2011 Critical Materials Strategy reports, the RFI seeks information on factors that affect the demand and supply of selected materials, opportunities for developing substitutes, and potential for using materials more efficiently.  In particular, topics of interest include material intensity, market projections, technology transitions, primary production, supply chains, and recycling.     

Responses are due no later than 5:00pm (EDT) on April 10, 2016, and should be submitted electronically to

To download a copy of the RFI, click here.

DOE will continue to pursue an integrated research plan that addresses critical materials challenges, in addition to collaborating with interagency and international partners. The Department expects to update its strategy periodically to reflect changing circumstances and feedback received. Accordingly, DOE welcomes comments on the Critical Materials Strategy and, in particular, any supplemental information that will enable the Department to refine its approach over time.

Comments and additional information can be sent to