• Boosting Supply Chains by Recovering Valuable Materials from Water

    Promoting national security and economic competitiveness will require America’s researchers to find new ways to obtain the materials that we need for many technologies. Traditional mining is fraught with challenges, while water, from the oceans to geothermal brines, is an underexplored resource for providing various materials.

  • How Much Cobalt Can Be Mined in the U.S.? Study Examines Mining Site in Idaho

    Demand for cobalt is projected to increase more than 500% by 2050. Roughly 70% of the cobalt mined globally is from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and then processed in China. Experts note that despite a high projected need for cobalt, battery technologies that use other ingredients have been gaining attention and popularity, such as lithium-iron-phosphate batteries, also called LFPs.

  • Using AI to Find Rare Minerals

    A machine learning model can predict the locations of minerals on Earth—and potentially other planets—by taking advantage of patterns in mineral associations.

  • The Critical Minerals End-Game?

    To reduce greenhouse gas emissions, there’s been a dramatic uptake of renewable energy, primarily solar and wind, with a transition to lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles and energy storage. The transition relies on increasing the extraction of critical minerals for their production.

  • Militaries, Metals, and Mining

    The U.S. aerospace and defense industries need access to critical minerals. Securing these minerals today may be an even more-complex task than it was during the cold war: the task requires more than deploying audacious subterfuge, as the CIA did in the 1960s to get titanium out of the Soviet Union. These minerals are now very much in the public eye, and they are also needed for the clean energy technologies that will help combat climate change.

  • Searching for Critical Minerals in New Mexico, Utah

    The U.S. Geological Survey will provide nearly $3.4 million to map critical-mineral resources in New Mexico in partnership with the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, and more than $6.6 million to map critical mineral resources in Utah, in partnership with the Utah Geological Survey.

  • EV Batteries: Chinese Dominance Raises Thorny Questions

    Chinese firms currently dominate the electric vehicle battery supply chain — from mining and refining through to final assembly. This leaves Western automakers with little option but to rely on Chinese-made batteries.

  • Better Together: Japan and the Five Eyes Need to Focus on Critical Minerals

    Critical minerals are being consumed in greater volumes than ever before, and the level of demand will only increase over the next 10 to 20 years, and beyond. The governments of Japan and the Five Eyes countries (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States) are aware that critical minerals, including rare-earth elements, will be increasingly needed as the world shifts from fossil-fuel systems to renewable energy sources. The partner nations are also clear about the challenges and opportunities, especially given that the supply chains for several critical minerals have only one or few dominant key players.

  • Critical Metal Needs Rise as Cars, Trucks Decarbonize

    The demand for battery-grade lithium, nickel, cobalt, manganese and platinum will climb steeply as nations work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through mid-century, but will likely set off economic snags and supply-chain hitches.

  • The Energy Transition Will Need More Rare Earth Elements. Can We Secure Them Sustainably?

    Decarbonizing the world’s power generation will require huge numbers of wind turbines, solar panels, electric vehicles (EVs), and storage batteries — all of which are made with rare earth elements and critical metals. Supplying these vast quantities of minerals in a sustainable manner will be a significant challenge, but scientists are exploring a variety of ways to provide materials for the energy transition with less harm to people and the planet.

  • Reducing Precious Metals in Catalytic Converters

    Precious metals in catalytic converters such as platinum, palladium and rhodium attract thieves, but researchers are working to reduce the amount of precious metals the converters need — down to single atoms — while still maximizing their effectiveness.

  • The Time to Prevent Shortfalls in Critical Materials Is Now

    Rare earth elements are—despite their name—everywhere. They’re in your cellphone, your car, maybe even in a crown in your mouth. They’re in satellites, wind turbines, night-vision goggles, laser-guided missiles, and fighter jets. All of which makes China’s near-total domination of the rare earth market a matter of economic and national security concern.

  • Making the Most of Australia’s Endowment of Critical Minerals

    The geostrategic scramble to reduce supply-chain dependencies for critical minerals has overshadowed opportunities for Australia to use its resources to provide major benefits for the nation.

  • New “Cosmic Concrete” Is Twice as Strong as Regular Concrete

    Building infrastructure in space is currently prohibitively expensive and difficult to achieve. Future space construction will need to rely on simple materials that are easily available to astronaut. Scientists have created a new material, dubbed “StarCrete,” which is made from extra-terrestrial dust, potato starch, and a pinch of salt. It could be used to build homes on Mars.

  • Australian Government Needs to Go ack to Basics to Build an Australian Rare-Earths Industry

    China has moved well beyond an aspiration to monopolize the production of rare earths. It aims for leadership in the production of the full range of goods making use of rare earths—from electric cars to wind turbines, MRI scanners, lasers and rocket motors.