BOZEMAN — Montana State University has received a grant from the Department of Energy, to continue research into micro-mining.
Out of the $22 million dollars worth of grants, the Department of Energy awarded M.S.U. $3.4 million dollars to continue their research. Specifically, to discover and develop technology to assist the United States’ independence of renewable energy metals.
“We are dependent on the Democratic Republic of Congo for the majority of our Cobalt, Nickel, other trace elements- rare earth elements- that we need for electronics and renewable energy technologies. If we don’t have a good domestic supply of that, we depend on foreign sources…and you can imagine with geopolitical tensions rising, potentially, those supply chains get disrupted,” Eric Boyd said.
Professor Eric Boyd is an Associate Professor at Montana State University, and guides students through paths of discovery and research.
“They [students] are the ones catalyzing the research…I live vicariously through them, so it’s an exciting opportunity for both undergraduate and graduate students,” Boyd said.
One student, Devon Payne, grows methanagines with different iron-sulfur sources which include the mineral sources that led to the funding from the Department of Energy.
“What we are trying to achieve is to use microbes to mine trace elements out of Pyretic ores. If we can achieve this goal, then potentially we can adapt this technology to improve the economics of mining trace elements,” Boyd said.
The team began this project in 2018, and with this grant will continue its’ work in the lab, as well as in partnership with a local mine.