The Department of Energy has given a grant to Montana State University in order to research into micro-mining.
The Department of Energy awarded Montana State University $3.4 million out of the $22 million worth of grants, to develop and discover technology to assist 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,” said Eric Boyd.
Eric Boyd is guiding students through paths of research and discovery as an Associate Professor at M.S.U.
“They are the ones catalyzing the research…I live vicariously through them, so it’s an exciting opportunity for both undergraduate and graduate students,” said Boyd.
Devon Payne, one of the students, grows methanogens with different iron-sulfur sources which include the mineral sources that led to Department of Energy grant.
“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,” said Boyd.
This grant allows the team to continue their work on the project in lab, as well as in partnership with a local mine.
The project was initially started in 2018.