DOE Allocates Funds for Rare Earth Element Research

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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) plans to provide up to $18 million for basic research aimed at helping to ensure the continued availability of rare earth elements – or effective substitutes – critical to the functioning of the modern U.S. economy. 

Rare earth elements such as neodymium, praseodymium, lanthanum and many others are vital to a host of contemporary technological and industrial applications, ranging from magnets in motors and wind turbines, to components of smartphones and computers, to catalysts in the chemical industry.

“Our nation’s economy continues to be bolstered by the research done at our national labs,” says Paul Dabbar, under secretary for science.

“By supporting the acceleration of our knowledge of rare earth elements, we can look forward to breakthroughs within our scientific community. This will impact everyday items Americans use from critical materials from our own backyard,” he adds.

The research will seek fundamental breakthroughs to enable improved methods to increase the availability or reduce the use of rare earth elements, more efficient separation approaches to enable reuse and discovery of effective substitutes for rare earths, among other topics. 

Planned funding totals $18 million for projects of three years in duration, with $6 million in fiscal year (FY) 2020 dollars and outyear funding contingent on congressional appropriations.

The Department’s Office of Science is coordinating the funding opportunity with ongoing applied efforts in critical materials research sponsored across the department. The aim of the Office of Science is to seek basic science breakthroughs that can ultimately lead to technological development.

Photo: The DOE’s landing page

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