Critical Minerals

Critical Minerals Working Group

The Energy@UT research community includes leading minds that have conducted breakthrough research on rare earth element and critical mineral resource identification, extraction, separation, and production.

Critical minerals (CM) are defined as materials that are essential technologies and subject to supply chain risks. CMs are utilized in batteries (e.g., lithium, cobalt) which are essential for sustaining the renewable energy transition. Rare earth elements (REEs) are utilized in magnets, computer chips, and other consumer products. CM and REE products are susceptible to both supply shortages and dependence on foreign exports.

The Center for Critical Materials at the University of Texas at Austin has a broad mission to maintain a safe, secure, diverse, and resilient supply chain of materials that are necessary for clean and renewable technologies. Our vision is to integrate academic research, technology innovation, and workforce development to enable research and technological advancements and foster technology transfers to industry.

Core Objectives: 

  1. Develop an interdisciplinary research program with core expertise spanning the extraction, separation, and resource characterization of critical materials. 
  2. Develop an educational workforce to train graduate students and postdoctoral scholars to become the next generation of scientists and engineers. 
  3. Develop an educational partnership with community colleges and trade schools to foster training and job creation in renewable technologies and clean energy. 
  4. Develop a collaborative organization structure to identify and acquire new funding sources. 
  5. Develop an environment where research and technology can be translated to industry. 

Critical Minerals Contact

Wen Song

Larry Lake

Tristan Childress

Faculty and Researchers

Tristan Childress headshot

Tristan Childress, Research Associate

Jackson School | Bureau of Economic Geology

David DiCarlo headshot

David DiCarlo, Associate Professor

Cockrell School | Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering

Benny Freeman headshot

Benny Freeman, Professor

Cockrell School | Department of Chemical Engineering

Larry Lake headshot

Larry Lake, Professor

Cockrell School | Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering

Benjamin Leibowicz headshot

Benjamin Leibowicz, Assistant Professor

Cockrell School | Department of Mechanical Engineering

Laxminarayan Raja headshot

Laxminarayan Raja, Professor

Cockrell School | Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics

Wen Song headshot

Wen Song, Assistant Professor

Cockrell School | Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering

Charles Werth headshot

Charles Werth, Professor

Cockrell School | Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering

Guihua Yu headshot

Guihua Yu, Associate Professor

Cockrell School | Department of Mechanical Engineering