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May 02, 2021 | Tom Ballard

UTRF subsidiary receives $1.5 million grant focused on rare earth elements

Collaborative Composite Solutions Corporation (CCS), a wholly-owned not-for profit subsidiary of the University of Tennessee Research Foundation, has been awarded almost $1.5 million by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to help address a critical national need.

CCS is not a household name in the region, but its primary responsibility is probably better known – operating the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation, most often referred to as IACMI-The Composites Institute. In an announcement late last week, a proposal submitted by CCS was one of 13 projects funded by DOE to help address the persistent shortages of domestic supply of rare earth elements which require the country to depend too much on foreign sources.

A total of $19 million was awarded to the 13 projects in traditionally fossil fuel-producing communities across the country to support increasing the supply of these materials that are vital to the manufacturing of batteries, magnets, and other components important to the clean energy economy.

According to the DOE news release, CCS was awarded $1,499,997 and “aims to develop and deploy new technologies for manufacturing rare earth elements, critical minerals and valuable non-fuel, carbon-based products from coal and/or coal waste in the South Appalachian Basin, thus revitalizing distressed South Appalachian coal communities, reducing reliance on foreign imports, and creating advanced manufacturing jobs producing coal-derived products.”

The CCS webpage describes the organization’s role as supporting “high-risk, high-value research, development, demonstration, and deployment of innovative, next generation manufacturing and recycling processes and productive technologies related to advanced composite materials and structures, and subsequent application to clean energy and industrial applications, that can improve U.S. competitiveness.”

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