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Bipartisan Infrastructure Law - Rare Earth Element Demonstration Facility
The United States imports more than 80% of its rare earth elements (REEs) demand from offshore suppliers. Similarly, in 2021, for at least 41 of the 50 critical minerals (CMs) on the current CM list, the United States imported more than half its consumption, with no domestic onshore production of 14 CMs.6 As evidenced by several Executive Orders,7,8 the recent BIL that was enacted on November 15, 2021,9 and DOE’s first-ever strategy on securing America’s energy supply chains,10 transitioning the production of these materials and their associated supply chains back to the United States is a strategic priority.
One goal of this and related DOE activities (such as the Critical Materials Institute11) and those elsewhere in the government (such as the Department of Defense and Title III of the Defense Production Act12) is to help build out domestic supply chains for REEs from a diversity of sources.13 Other near-term planned private sector investments will help establish the first domestic midstream processing capabilities for REEs in the United States in several decades. Together, these public and private sector investments form a nationwide effort that can help provide a firm foundation for resilient, sustainable, and responsible REE supply chains.
Section 40205 of the BIL amended Section 7001 of the Energy Act of 2020 (codified at 42 U.S.C. 13344) and directs the establishment of a rare earth demonstration facility that will include a fullscale integrated REE extraction and separation facility and refinery. In coordination with the Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM), ‘‘(1) … the Secretary shall fund, through an agreement with an academic partner, the design, construction, and build-out of a facility to demonstrate the commercial feasibility of a full-scale integrated rare earth element extraction and separation facility and refinery. ‘‘(2) FACILITY ACTIVITIES.—The facility established under paragraph (1) shall— ‘‘(A) provide environmental benefits through use of feedstock derived from acid mine drainage, mine waste, or other deleterious material; ‘‘(B) separate mixed rare earth oxides into pure oxides of each rare earth element; ‘‘(C) refine rare earth oxides into rare earth metals; and ‘‘(D) provide for separation of rare earth oxides and refining into rare earth metals at a single site.”
To address the BIL requirement for a demonstration facility, this FOA seeks applications from academic institutions acting as the Prime Applicant for a Phase I Front-End Engineering Design (FEED) study and a Phase II design, construction, and operation of a first-of-a-kind (FOAK), domestic, demonstration facility that produces REEs and CMM from domestic resources that include unconventional15 and secondary16 sources, such as acid mine drainage, mine waste, or other deleterious material.17 For the purposes of this FOA, deleterious material means earth, waste or introduced materials exposed by mining operations to air, water, weather or microbiological processes.
Deadline: Nov. 21, 2022
Areas of Interest
The FOA will consist of two Areas of Interest (AOI). AOI-1 will be for Applicants that have previously completed an AACE Class 4 Pre-FEED study that will complete a full AACE Class 3 FEED Study as part of Phase I. AOI-2 will afford Applicants the opportunity to apply to the FOA if an AACE Class 3 FEED Study has already been completed at private expense.
In accordance with 2 CFR 910.126, Competition, eligibility to apply as a Prime Recipient is restricted to academic institutions (see below for domestic requirement). DOE is restricting eligibility per Section 40205 of the BIL, which amended Section 7001 of the Energy Act of 2020 (codified at 42 U.S.C. 13344). The section requires the establishment of a rare earth element demonstration facility that will include a full-scale integrated rare earth element extraction and separation facility and refinery. Specifically, in coordination with the Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM), ‘‘(1) … the Secretary shall fund, through an agreement28 with an academic partner, the design, construction, and build-out of a facility to demonstrate the commercial feasibility of a full-scale integrated rare earth element extraction and separation facility and refinery.”
The proposed prime recipient (restricted to academic institutions) and subrecipient(s) must be domestic entities. To qualify as a domestic entity, the entity must be organized, chartered or incorporated (or otherwise formed) under the laws of a particular state or territory of the United States; have majority domestic ownership and control; and have a physical place of business in the United States.
An entity may submit more than one Full Application to this FOA, provided that each application describes a unique, scientifically distinct project.
DOE expects to make a total of approximately $156 million of federal funding available for new awards under this FOA, subject to the availability of appropriated funds. DOE anticipates making approximately eight awards under this FOA in Phase I and one award (competitively down-selected) in Phase II. DOE may issue one, multiple, or no awards.