Two CMI technologies named 2021 R and D 100 Award winners

Two technologies developed by the Critical Materials Institute (CMI) won 2021 R&D 100 Awards in the Mechanical Devices/Materials category. R&D World announced the top 100 scientific innovations of the year, as selected by independent panel of more than 50 judges representing R&D leaders in a variety of fields.

CMI is an Energy Innovation Hub led by Ames Laboratory and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy since 2013. CMI accelerates innovative scientific and technological solutions to develop resilient and secure supply chains for rare earth metals and other materials critical to the success of clean energy technologies. Led by the Ames Laboratory, CMI includes 300 scientists, engineers and support staff at four national laboratories of the U.S. Department of Energy, 14 universities, and 29 industrial partners.

One of the CMI technology R&D 100 Award winners is RE-Metal, developed at Idaho National Laboratory and funded by CMI. Donna Baek led the work with Robert Fox and Abderrahman Atifi. RE-Metal helps solve an enormous challenge for U.S. manufacturers: enabling the environmentally friendly recycling of a limited supply of essential rare earth elements that are required for most of today’s high-tech devices. Recycling rare earth elements from high-tech devices typically involves a toxic process that’s banned in many countries, including the United States. RE-Metal enables the recovery of rare earth metals from waste electronics and other sources. (Link to INL news release: The RE-Metal technology also has been part of a U.S. Department of Energy I-corps program. (Link to Energy I-corps page on the project: This video describes their process:

With the two new awards, CMI research now has won a total of six R&D 100 Awards. The earlier awards are:

  • 2018 Acid-free Dissolution Recycling of Rare Earth Elements and Cobalt won both an R&D 100 Award and the 2018 Gold Award R&D 100 Special Recognition, Green Tech,
  • 2017 ACE: The Ageless Aluminum Revolution, and
  • 2017 Additively Printed High Performance Magnets.

In more than eight years of work, CMI has published 450 refereed publications in leading scientific journals. Cumulatively, CMI has issued 150 invention disclosures and five open-source software packages. Ten CMI technologies have been licensed. CMI technologies have received 26 U.S. patents, five Federal Laboratory Consortium awards, six R&D 100 Awards and four TechConnect Innovation Awards. Some CMI inventions are in commercial use. For information on partnering with CMI or licensing CMI technologies, contact Stacy Joiner, CMI Partner Relations, or 515-296-4508.

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