Researchers led by the University of Iowa have been awarded $4 million in funding to support renewable energy industries in Iowa and Kansas.
The four-year project, funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation through its Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), seeks to bolster the United States’ competitiveness in renewable energy.
Specifically, the researchers aim to identify potential new sources of rare Earth elements, the backbone of a host of renewable energy technologies, including as batteries and the magnets inside wind turbines. The funding also will support researchers’ effort to more precisely evaluate regional groundwater resources, a critical component in ethanol production.
Iowa and Kansas are national leaders in renewable energy; both states rank in the top five in total wind power generation. Iowa is the established leader in ethanol production, and Kansas ranks in the top ten.
“What’s especially exciting about this project is it will provide a direct link between academic research, governmental agencies in both states, and the private sector,” says Brad Cramer, a principal investigator for the award and associate professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences.
Jessica Meyer, assistant professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, and Keith Schilling, state geologist and director of the Iowa Geological Survey at Iowa, also are principal investigators.
The Iowa team will partner with the Kansas Geological Survey and the University of Kansas.
NSF director Sethuraman Panchanathan praised the proposal: "These projects advance curiosity-driven research and focus on important issues such as STEM education and career opportunities in their communities by establishing regional partnerships with higher education and industry.”