PSU Researchers to Lead $1.2 Million US Dept of Energy Project

05/18/2021

Image: PennFuture

A team of Penn State researchers leading a $1.2 million project funded by the United States Department of Energy Production to assess the rare earth elements and critical minerals in HappyValley, which serve as key components to several clean energy applications such as magnets in wind turbines and batteries in electric and conventional vehicles.

“Penn State’s world class research is a source of pride in the Commonwealth,” U.S. Senator Bob Casey said. “Once again, its students and community of scholars has distinguished itself in the clean energy field.

The project is part of a $19 million investment by the United States Department of Energy in 13 projects across the country in traditionally fossil fuel-producing communities to support production of rare earth elements and critical minerals important to the clean energy economy. The investment is part of the Biden Administration’s national plan to partner with local communities to ensure that the shift to a clean energy economy creates good-paying union jobs, spurs economic revitalization, and supports workers. 

“Penn State’s world class research is a source of pride in the Commonwealth,” U.S. Senator Bob Casey said. “Once again, its students and community of scholars has distinguished itself in the clean energy field. I have no doubt that this research will contribute to our nation’s development of clean energy.”

The project led by Penn State aims to assess and catalog Northern Appalachian Basin rare earth elements and critical minerals resources and waste streams, develop strategies to recover minerals from these streams, and assess the infrastructure, industries and businesses in the Northern Appalachian Basin to determine supply chain gaps. The Northern Appalachian Basin includes Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. 

"We are encouraged to see projects that promise to remediate legacy environmental pollution while generating jobs and economic activity in regions hurt by the failure of the fossil fuel industry,"

Facing persistent shortages in domestic supply, the U.S. has been forced to rely on imported materials, leaving clean energy technology production at greater risk of disruption. This two-year project will allow Penn State and its university and industrial partners to gain a better understanding of what resources are available in the HappyValley region and how to best utilize them. 

PennFuture, a statewide environmental advocacy organization leading the transition to a clean energy economy in Pennsylvania, is encouraged by the parameters of the Penn State project.

"We are encouraged to see projects that promise to remediate legacy environmental pollution while generating jobs and economic activity in regions hurt by the failure of the fossil fuel industry," Rob Altenburg, PennFuture’s Senior Director for Energy and Climate, added.

Penn State researchers will collaborate with the University of Kentucky, Virginia Tech and Colorado School of Mines, and industry partners including Tetra Tech, American Resources Corporation, Materia USA, Texas Mineral Resources Corp. and USA Rare Earths.

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