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Iowa researchers have been granted $4 million to help the renewable energy industry grow

A $4 million grant has been awarded to researchers at the University of Iowa to boost renewable energy enterprises in Iowa and Kansas. The four-year project, financed by the United States National Science Foundation’s Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), aims to boost the country’s renewable energy competitiveness.

The researchers want to find new supplies of rare earth elements, which are used in a variety of renewable energy systems, such as batteries as well as magnets in wind turbines. The funding will also help experts better assess area groundwater supplies, which are crucial in the manufacturing of ethanol.

Kansas and Iowa are national renewable energy leaders, with both states ranking among the top 5 in overall wind power generation. Iowa is the clear leader in ethanol production, with Kansas coming in at the top 10. “What’s particularly exciting about this project is that it will establish a direct link between government agencies and academic research in both states, and the private sector,” says Brad Cramer, who serves as an associate professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences as well as a principal investigator for the award.

Principal investigators include Jessica Meyer, who works as an assistant professor at the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, as well as Keith Schilling, a state geologist and head of the Iowa Geological Survey. The University of Kansas and the Kansas Geological Survey will collaborate with the Iowa team.

“These projects foster the curiosity-driven study and focus on vital topics such as STEM education and employment prospects in their communities by developing regional relationships with higher education and industry,” said NSF director Sethuraman Panchanathan.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is a federally funded independent agency that promotes fundamental research and teaching in all non-medical sectors of science and engineering. The National Institutes of Health is its medical counterpart. The NSF funds around 25% of all federally financed fundamental research undertaken by colleges and universities in the United States, with a yearly budget of around $8.3 billion (the financial year 2020). The NSF is a key source of federal funding in various subjects, like economics, mathematics, computer science, and the social sciences.

The director and deputy director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) are selected by the President of the United States and approved by the Senate whereas the 24 members of the National Science Board (NSB) are selected by the President of the United States and do not require Senate confirmation. The foundation’s administration, planning, budgeting, and day-to-day activities are handled by the director and deputy director, while the NSB convene six times a year to define overarching policy. Sethuraman Panchanathan is the current director of the National Science Foundation.

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