Hoeven Announces Nearly $750K in Federal Funding to Support Research at University of North Dakota

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, who serves on the U.S. Senate Energy and Appropriations Committees, today announced that the University of North Dakota (UND) has been selected by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) to receive $748,847 in federal funding to support research that aims to extract rare earth elements from coal. Rare earth elements contain unique chemical properties which have made them essential in many technologies including electronics, computer systems, health care, defense and transportation. In recent years, the demand for rare earth elements has grown significantly.

“North Dakota’s vibrant energy industry is supported by innovative research at our universities that help our businesses produce more energy with better environmental stewardship,” Hoeven said. “Today’s award will help continue the important work of researchers at UND to recover rare earth elements from lignite coal, coal sediments and coal drying refuse materials in North Dakota.”

Today’s funding will cover Phase 1 of UND’s research, which will include sampling and classification of coal-related materials along with a proposed method of recovering the rare earth elements. North Dakota has the world’s second largest reserves of lignite and sold nearly 29 million tons of coal last year, up nearly 4 percent from 2013, according to the Lignite Energy Council.