The US Department of Energy (DOE) says it intends to make approximately $122 million available to establish coal product innovation centres that focus on manufacturing value-added, carbon-based products from coal, as well developing new methods to extract and process rare earth elements and critical minerals from coal.
The DOE anticipates funding innovation centres in multiple US coal producing basins.
New and existing coalitions of private industry, academia, national laboratories, and state and local governments are encouraged to compete to establish the centres, it said.
“Once established, the public-private innovation centres will research and incubate innovative mining, beneficiation, processing, and purification technologies that are environmentally sustainable,” the DOE said. “Each centre will also provide a foundation for educating the next generation of technicians, skilled workers, and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics professionals.”
US Secretary of Energy, Dan Brouillette, said: “It’s vitally important that America develop a viable domestic supply of rare earth elements, critical minerals, and other valuable products from our vast coal resources. This effort moves us closer to that goal.
“The Trump Administration has been aggressively investing in research and development for novel uses of coal that have the potential to create new markets for coal and coal by-products. Sustaining domestic coal production creates new economic opportunity for coal state economies and benefits the nation.”
Examples of US coal basins, which could host an innovation centre, include: the Appalachian basin (Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia), the San Juan River-Raton-Black Mesa basin (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico), the Illinois basin (Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee), the Williston basin (Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota), the Powder River basin (Montana, Wyoming), the Uinta basin (Colorado, Utah), the Green River-Wind River basin (Colorado, Wyoming), the Gulf Coast-Black Warrior basin (Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas), and Alaska, covering 22 states.
The funding for the innovation centres will be provided from the new Carbon Ore, Rare Earths, and Critical Minerals (CORE-CM) Initiative, which is sponsored by DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy. This will be made available through one or more Funding Opportunity Announcements issued this summer by DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), it said.
Steven Winberg, Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy, said: “These planned innovation centres and other efforts supported by the new CORE-CM initiative will build on the amazing work that NETL and our partners have been doing for years on rare earth elements, critical minerals, and value-added products from coal.
“We’re excited about our path forward and the economic opportunity it creates for coal producing regions of the country and the United States.”