Ames National Laboratory Partners with NETL and Other DOE Labs to Launch a New Critical Materials Research Facility

Ames National Laboratory | U.S. DOE Office of Science

Ames National Laboratory will partner with eight other DOE National Laboratories to support the Critical Materials Supply Chain Research Facility recently announced by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management. Ames Lab will lead the Critical Materials Refinery Center, one of four Centers to be established in the Facility.

The Minerals to Materials Supply Chain Research Facility (METALLIC) will be led by National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and musters the combined research and development strength of the national laboratories. Together they will focus on ensuring resilient, diverse, and secure domestic supply of critical minerals and materials.

Critical materials are essential ingredients in many clean-energy, defense, transportation, and commercial technologies, and include rare earth metals, lithium, cobalt, and others. High demand, lack of domestic sources and processing, and geopolitical instability can disrupt material supply chains.

Ames National Laboratory’s global reputation in rare earth science, high-purity metal and alloy refining, and critical materials research, coupled with its strong tradition of translating lab-scale discovery science to commercial adoption makes the Lab well-suited to support the mission of METALLIC, said Tom Lograsso, the director of Ames Lab’s Critical Materials Innovation Hub (CMI), which accelerates the innovation of technological solutions to critical materials supply challenges

“Our recognized research strengths and successful track record in commercializing new technologies at Ames Lab make us valuable partners in METALLIC,” said Lograsso. “We will be combining our decades of expertise with new capabilities so that we can collaborate and innovate with METALLIC partners to address current and emerging critical materials supply challenges.”

Ames National Laboratory will support METALLIC by standing up new facilities that support mid-scale refining, separations technologies, and advanced alloy processing. As part of the proposal, Ames will lead the Critical Materials Refinery Center which will:

  • Allow users to develop economical, energy-efficient, and environmentally friendly critical materials refining technologies.
  • Integrate advanced diagnostics and data analytics into critical materials refining, making real-time process monitoring and control possible.
  • Foster collaboration with stakeholders to develop commercially scalable solutions to fill technology and capability gaps that currently limit critical materials supply chains.

“The Critical Materials Refinery Center will create a national resource that provides key solutions to critical material supply challenges,” said Ryan Ott, who will be the Critical Materials Refinery Center lead. “These powerful new capabilities will allow us to work with partners across the nation to bridge mid-scale processing to commercial adoption of new refining technologies needed to support critical materials supply chains.”

The importance of critical materials to economic and national security requires accelerating discovery-to-deployment, which has long been the hallmark of Ames Laboratory research, said Ott.  

“Supporting resilient and sustainable critical material supply chains has been intrinsic to Ames Laboratory’s research for decades,” he said. “We are inspired by the goals of METALLIC, and excited to for this new opportunity to realize resilient and sustainable critical material supply chains.”

METALLIC is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM). FECM conducts research, development, demonstration, and deployment to minimize the environmental and climate impacts of fossil fuel and industrial processes while working to achieve net-zero emissions across the U.S. economy.

Ames National Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science National Laboratory operated by Iowa State University. Ames Laboratory creates innovative materials, technologies, and energy solutions. We use our expertise, unique capabilities, and interdisciplinary collaborations to solve global problems.

Ames National Laboratory is supported by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit