RENO, NV – Today, U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV), a member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), released the following statement applauding news of a grant totaling $550,000 awarded to the University of Nevada, Reno. The grant, awarded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), was given to support the university’s efforts to utilize rare earth elements for use in clean energy development.

“Initiatives to develop clean energy will help to create a stronger, more sustainable environment in Nevada and across our country,” said Senator Rosen. “I’m proud to see that the University of Nevada, Reno has received this grant funding, which will go toward supporting their efforts at clean energy development. The funding will also help to create and implement efforts to promote chemical engineering in Nevada high schools, preparing the next generation of scientists and researchers in our state. I will continue my efforts in Congress to support science education for Nevada’s students.”

BACKGROUND: Rare earth elements, including lanthanides, are vital to clean energy, defense, and consumer technologies, such as smartphones, wind turbines, lasers, guidance systems, and medical contrast agents. For most applications, specific lanthanides are needed in near-purified form. The purification process requires separating the elements from each other. The separation is particularly challenging due to the chemical similarity of the rare earth elements and thus requires substantial amounts of solvent and energy. Efficient rare earth separation processes are needed to ensure a reliable, sustainable supply of rare earth elements for the United States.

This CAREER project will incorporate rare earth separation research into an undergraduate chemical engineering separation course and will expand efforts to promote chemical engineering in Nevada high schools. The educational and outreach components of the project aim to bridge graduate student research and chemical separations instruction, introduce undergraduate students to the concepts of rare earth separations, and strengthen the chemical engineering workforce development pipeline in support of Nevada’s continued expansion toward technology-based employment.