A net-zero waste manufacturing strategy must include end-of-life recycling for consumer products. Recovering and purifying critical materials requires advanced chemistry to separate specific elements from complex mixtures. Such recycling efforts could produce a host of valuable products including metals, polymers, fibers and glass.
Recycling Critical Materials
Clean energy technologies could have trouble reaching consumers if a shortage of critical materials creates high or volatile prices. INL is helping ensure a sustainable domestic supply by developing technologies to improve recovery from consumer products, mining processes and coal fly ash.
Supporting Nationwide Effort
The lab is part of the Critical Materials Institute, an Energy Innovation Hub the U.S. Department of Energy established in 2013 to assure supply chains of materials critical to wind turbines, electric vehicles, efficient lighting, advanced batteries and other clean energy technologies. INL is leading research efforts in recycling and reuse of rare and critical materials, which is important to the new Critical Materials Institute. This effort is augmented by developing and testing new specialized materials for manufacturing, as well as the research and application testing of intelligent and resilient systems to produce new, more effective approaches to manufacturing. INL helped develop a membrane solvent extraction system licensed to U.S. Rare Earths, Inc., for recovering critical materials.