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Ames Lab To Be Rare-Earth Hub

by Jeff Johnson
January 14, 2013 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 91, Issue 2

Credit: Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory
Extruded europium metal is in short supply.
Photo shows extruded europium (Eu) metal; the colors arise from various levels of oxidation and the banding is from surface texture variation arising from the extrusion process.
Credit: Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory
Extruded europium metal is in short supply.

The Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, was selected last week as a DOE research and technology hub to lead efforts to develop solutions to the nation’s shortages of rare-earth metals. The shortages have become a growing concern globally and in the U.S. and may limit future development of advanced energy products that depend on these critical materials. Last week, DOE committed to providing $120 million over five years to run the program at Ames, which will include efforts to coordinate the work of other labs, universities, and corporations that are working with the program. DOE studies have found critical shortages among five rare-earth metals—yttrium, neodymium, europium, terbium, and dysprosium—that could affect clean energy technology deployment in the coming years for electric vehicles, advanced batteries, wind turbines, solar panels, and lighting. Ames is a leading research center for rare-earth materials science and technology, the department noted when making the announcement.


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