JCDREAM Keeps All Eyes on Washington State for Earth-Abundant Materials

CleanTech Innovation Showcase Presenting Company Recap: JCDREAM (Joint Center for Development and Research in Earth Abundant Materials)

By Grant Williamson

CleanTech Alliance Contributor


Professor Dave Field of Washington State University (WSU) spoke about JCDREAM, a materials research center established in 2015 that is focused on replacing specialized materials with earth-abundant materials at the 2017 CleanTech Innovation Showcase. Specialized materials, such as titanium, lithium and neodymium, are currently important in electronics such as cell phones and tablets, but come from conflict zones or require environmentally damaging extraction procedures.

Field indicated that the use of problem materials is increasing as technology gets more complex.  Current cell phones contain approximately 75 elements, whereas older cell phones contain only around 30 elements.  This is problematic because materials like rare earth elements can produce 2,000 tons of toxic waste for each ton of rare earth metals that is produced.

JCDREAM, Field told the audience, will be part of the solution.  The mission of JCDREAM is three-fold.  First, develop earth-abundant material-based technology in clean energy and transportation.  Second, establish a center that is geographically distributed throughout Washington State for advanced materials and manufacturing that involve earth abundant elements.  Third, train workers for jobs working with earth-abundant materials and educate policymakers about the problems with conflict resources and rare-earth minerals.

Members of the center include industry, academia and the foundations community—environmental stewardship, and economic growth incentives and support.   The center has purchased an SEM, Ultra CT and an additive manufacturing system that uses metals.  JCDREAM is partnering with the Joint Center for Aerospace Technology Innovation and the Clean Energy Institute to best leverage Washington State resources.  JCDREAM has the resources and infrastructure to support the development and commercialization of technology using earth-abundant materials in Washington State.