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DLA Recycling Optical-grade Germanium to Boost Domestic Supply

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The Defense Logistics Agency is working on recycling optical-grade germanium to help boost the domestic availability of what is considered a critical material and lessen U.S. reliance on international market for its supply.

The Department of Defense reported Wednesday a DLA program introduced the germanium recycling capability in the U.S. defense industrial base.

The U.S. source more than half of its germanium needs from international providers, mainly China.

The material is from night-vision and thermal-sensing devices used by the military, and Pennsylvania’s Tobyhanna Army Depot provided most of the germanium scrap being processed by the program.

“Until now, there was no entity in the country that could do this complete process, from demilitarization and disassembly to ingot production. Everything that’s being done to recycle the material through this program is being done 100 percent stateside,” said Nancy Albertson, a chemist and program manager for DLA Strategic Materials.

With nationwide consumption reaching 30,000 kilograms in 2020, the DLA program looks to cover 2,200 to 3,000 kilograms of the annual germanium need through the recycling capability.

Military platforms such as Abrams main battle tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles, Apache helicopters and naval systems use night-vision and thermal-sensing equipment with germanium.