Ensuring the Sustainability of Critical Materials and Alternatives

Addressing the Fundamental Challenges in Separation Science and Engineering
August 21, 2012

The NSF identified research in separations science and engineering (SSE) as a key priority for ensuring the sustainability of critical metals. This symposium featured presentations and a panel discussion on subjects related to critical materials.

ACS Presidential Symposium on Ensuring the Sustainability of Critical Materials and Alternatives

Natural resources derived from the Earth’s lithosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere are the building blocks of a sustainable human society. Like energy and water, the availability of metals is critical to the world economy. Although the United States (US) is one of the world’s largest producers of minerals, it imports more than 70% of its needs for important metals, many of which have been listed as critical minerals by the U.S. National Research Council. During the last 5 years, the sustainable supply of critical metals has been the subject of intense discussion worldwide. However, only a few workshops and reports have been devoted to the key role of separations science and engineering (SSE) in the sustainable extraction, recovery, recycling and replacement of critical metals.

During its recent SusCHEM workshop, the National Science Foundation identified research in SSE as a key priority for ensuring a sustainable supply of critical metals. Building upon the results of the SusCHEM workshop, a 1-day symposium was held on Tuesday August 21 during the 2012 Fall Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Philadelphia: “Ensuring the Sustainability of Critical Materials and Alternatives: Addressing the Fundamental Challenges in Separation Science and Engineering.”

This symposium featured a series of presentations and a panel discussion on critical materials and their sustainable extraction, recovery and purification. It was co-sponsored by the American Chemical Society (ACS), the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). Dr. Catherine T. Hunt (Dow Chemical Company) and Prof. Mamadou S. Diallo (KAIST and Caltech) were co-chairs of the symposium. See results from the symposium below:

Report of the Symposium

Continuation of this wo​rk

Information on the 2014 Workshop here.


Conference Presentations

Please note: Only presentations specifically granted permission by the presenter are posted on this page.

Conference Program Download

Download 2012 Critial Materials conference program book for complete information. Critical Materials Program Book

Featured Speakers

Harry A. Atwater

Harry Atwater’s research centers around two interwoven research themes: photovoltaics and solar energy, and plasmonics and optical metamaterials. Atwater and his group have been active in photovoltaics research for more than 20 years. He currently serves as Director of the DOE Energy Frontier Research Center on Light-Material Interactions in Solar Energy Conversion. He was also recently named Director of the Resnick Institute for Science, Energy and Sustainability, Caltech’s largest endowed research program focused on energy. (click name for full bio)Read more

Andy Davis

Andy’s work with Molycorp has helped to elevate Washington’s attention to rare earths, their importance to key national priorities like clean energy and national security, the global supply and demand challenges, and Molycorp’s development of manufacturing capabilities across the mine-to-magnetics supply chain. (click name for full bio)Read more

Mamadou S. Diallo

Professor Mamadou Diallo was trained both as an engineer and physical chemist. His current research interests and activities focus on the use of dendritic nanomaterials (e.g. dendrimers, hyperbranched polymers and branched polymeric microparticles and nanoparticles) as building bolcks to develop novel adsorbents, membranes and filtration systems for water treatment, reuse and desalination. During the last 7 years, Prof. Diallo has been pioneering the applications of dendrimer nanotechnology to water purification while serving as the Director of Molecular Environmental Technology of the Materials and Process Simulation at Caltech. In 2007, Prof. Diallo co-founded the start-up company Aqua Nanotechnologies (ANT) to scale-up and commercialize high performance media for water treatment and environmental/industrial separations. (click name for full bio)Read more

Catherine T. Hunt

Catherine T. “Katie” Hunt, Ph.D. is Former R&D Director, Innovation Sourcing & Sustainable Technologies at The Dow Chemical Company. She has a strong history of building federally-funded, technology partnerships across industry, academia and national labs; partnerships that have successfully delivered innovative solutions. Katie began her career as a senior scientist in analytical research at Rohm and Haas in 1984 after completing an NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship at Yale University. Over her 25 year career with Rohm and Haas, Katie held positions of increasing responsibility and ultimately served as Corporate Sustainability Director and Leader for Technology Partnerships. (click name for full bio)Read more

Mark Johnson

Mark Johnson leads ARPA-E’s Grid-Scale Rampable Intermittent Dispatchable Storage (GRIDS) program, which targets disruptive grid-level stationary energy storage technologies. Johnson is an Associate Professor of Materials Science and Engineering as well as Director of Engineering for the Technology, Entrepreneurship and Commercialization (TEC) Program at NC State. His work has focused at the intersection of smart-grid, renewable energy, wide band-gap semiconductor materials and devices, communications and photonics technologies; as well as entrepreneurship, technology transfer, and public-private partnership formation. (click name for full bio)Read more

Bruce A. Moyer

Bruce Moyer is Leader of the Chemical Separations Group in the Chemical Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory. With 33 years of experience in the area of separations science, he has specialized in both fundamental and applied aspects of solvent extraction and ion exchange, publishing over 180 open-literature articles, book chapters, proceedings papers, and reports. His patents range from solvent extraction of cesium for nuclear-waste cleanup to supported liquid membrane systems and novel anion-exchange resins. (click name for full bio)Read more

Tanja Pietrass

Tanja Pietrass currently works as a Deputy Division Director at the National Science Foundation (NSF). Prior to this role, she worked as the NSF Program Directory in the Chemistry Division. Tanja has been with NSF since 2008. (click name for full bio)Read more

James C. Stevens

Dr. James C. Stevens is a Corporate Fellow in the Core Research and Development Department of The Dow Chemical Company, where he has worked for 33 years. Jim’s primary field of research is in the area of new catalysts and the high-throughput discovery of organometallic single-site catalysts. Since 2008 Dr. Stevens has been working to develop solar energy products and is involved in the development of Dow’s POWERHOUSE Solar Shingle, which is the first building-integrated photovoltaic product that can be installed by regular roofing contractors. (click name for full bio)Read more