The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) continues to invest in clean energy technologies to strengthen our domestic energy independence. To improve technologies from the onset, the Geothermal Technologies Office is focusing on rare earths and critical materials recovery—the building blocks in many clean energy applications.
Critical materials—lithium, manganese and some rare-earth elements—play a vital role in producing many clean energy technologies, including solar panels, wind turbines, electric vehicles, and energy-saving lighting and energy storage. For example, rare-earth elements are used in devices such as iPads, smartphones and flat-screen televisions; indium is present in the liquid crystal displays of many of the same devices. Manganese is essential for hardening iron into steel and reducing corrosion in aluminum cans. Many clean energy technologies, including wind turbines, energy-efficient lighting, electric vehicles, and thin-film solar cells require various critical materials to function.