U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp today announced that the University of North Dakota Institute for Energy Studies received $2.75 million in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to move to the second phase of research aimed at advanced recovery of rare earth elements (REE) from coal and coal byproducts.
UND was one of four projects chosen nationwide to move forward to the second phase. According to DOE, these federal funds will be used to research the use of North Dakota subbituminous lignite coal and coal-related material as feedstock to test its REE recovery system. The project will also recover other materials from the lignite feedstock to produce one or more value-added products.
Heitkamp is a leader in Congress in helping find a viable future for coal. Last month, she reintroduced her bipartisan bill that would extend and expand a key tax credit to encourage technological innovation that would reduce carbon emissions. This bill brought together an extensive, diverse group of bipartisan lawmakers and outside groups, including coal companies, environmental groups, and labor organizations, around the issue of carbon – a usually divisive issue. Heitkamp also led a group of 15 Democrats to urge for strong funding in carbon capture, storage and utilization as the president’s budget proposes cuts. She introduced major legislation in 2013 and 2015 to incentivize companies to invest in technologies to reduce the carbon footprint of coal-fired power. In 2014, Heitkamp brought both then-EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and then-Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz to North Dakota to talk about the state’s energy industry, as well as hosted a Coal Technology Symposium that brought together industry, lawmakers, experts and academics to talk about a realistic energy policies for coal.
Between the four chosen projects, DOE is investing a total of $17.4 million to develop and test REE recovery systems. The other projects are at West Virginia University Research Corporation in Morgantown, WV, Physical Sciences, Inc. in Andover, MA, and The University of Kentucky Research Foundation in Lexington, KY. All projects are expected to be completed by 2020.