The Department of Energy has finalized a list of critical materials that will inform agency priorities in such areas as the Critical Materials Research, Development, Demonstration, and Commercial Application Program and eligibility for the Inflation Reduction Act tax credit for clean energy projects and facilities that meet American manufacturing and sourcing requirements. The final list is based on the criticality of materials in the short- and medium-term.

- Critical Materials for Energy: aluminum, cobalt, copper, dysprosium, electrical steel (grain-oriented electrical steel, non-grain-oriented electrical steel, and amorphous steel), fluorine, gallium, iridium, lithium, magnesium, natural graphite, neodymium, nickel, platinum, praseodymium, terbium, silicon, and silicon carbide.

- Critical Minerals: aluminum, antimony, arsenic, barite, beryllium, bismuth, cerium, cesium, chromium, cobalt, dysprosium, erbium, europium, fluorspar, gadolinium, gallium, germanium, graphite, hafnium, holmium, indium, iridium, lanthanum, lithium, lutetium, magnesium, manganese, neodymium, nickel, niobium, palladium, platinum, praseodymium, rhodium, rubidium, ruthenium, samarium, scandium, tantalum, tellurium, terbium, thulium, tin, titanium, tungsten, vanadium, ytterbium, yttrium, zinc, and zirconium.

Of these, only copper, electrical steel, silicon, and silicon carbide are materials that were not already designated as critical minerals by the Department of the Interior. Electrical steel and silicon carbide, which are engineered materials, were selected because they were found to have high potential for supply risk in the “supply chain deep dive” reports as part of America’s Strategy to Secure the Supply Chain for a Robust Clean Energy Transition and the elements comprising the engineered materials (such as iron for electrical steel) were unlikely to be found critical and thus not indicate the risk posed to deploying energy technologies.

According to the DOE, the scope of materials analyzed did not include materials that are used indirectly in the manufacturing process but do not contribute to the composition of the components or final products. For example, helium is used in cooling, cleaning, and creating an inert environment for semiconductors but it is not a constituent material of the semiconductor. While a disruption in the helium supply chain can impact semiconductor production, the scope of the assessment was not extended to indirect material use, although the DOE may consider the examination of materials used indirectly in manufacturing processes in future assessments.

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