WRI Graduate Assistant is Recipient of New Rockefeller Scholarship

Written by WVU News on . Posted in Media, News

West Virginia University students studying within the new John D. Rockefeller IV School of Policy and Politics now have the opportunity to earn a scholarship also bearing the former U.S. Senator’s name.

A $100,000 gift from Rockefeller to the WVU Foundation has created the John D. Rockefeller IV Leadership Award in Policy & Politics. Former Senator Jay Rockefeller endowed this scholarship in the hope that it would enable our best and brightest students to experience meaningful public service or research that would also help us collectively address some of our biggest policy questions or community challenges.

“My sincere hope is that this scholarship will allow star students to take an important step on their journeys to better understand how they can change their world today and into the future,” said Rockefeller.

The first recipient of this new scholarship is Michelle Sloane of Paramus, New Jersey, a student in the Master of Public Administration program. As a graduate student, Sloane has been involved in several public service projects, including developing community capacity in Fairmont, West Virginia and exploring budget frameworks for the WVU Extension Fire Service. She serves in a leadership role in the WVU Student Association of Public Administrators and volunteers with the West Virginia Botanical Gardens. Michelle also works as a Graduate Research Assistant at the West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center.

“The Rockefeller Scholarship is the embodiment of the WVU land grant vision of enhancing the vitality and well-being of the people of West Virginia,” Maja Holmes, associate professor of public administration, said. “Michelle’s service-learning project represents the commitment of WVU students to make this vision a reality,” Holmes said.

Terms of the scholarship agreement call for recipients of the award to be undergraduate students who are participating in off-campus service learning opportunities related to policy, leadership, or public services in areas related to challenges facing the state of West Virginia. Second preference would be for graduate students doing direct public service, with the proper temperament, approach, and understanding of the culture and needs of the community in areas related to the challenges facing the state.

Sloane will be working to advance the creation of the Fairmont Black History Museum. The project will address the challenge of giving voice to an underrepresented part of the community, promote understanding of cultural diversity in West Virginia, and offer education and outreach opportunities to members of the greater Fairmont community.

“I am passionate about helping people access information and resources,” Sloane said. “I have worked with Fairmont in different capacities and look forward to the opportunity to delve deeper and help this particular community showcase one of its strongest assets – its rich cultural history.”

Recipients of the award will be required to prepare a report of their experience, which will be included in the John D. Rockefeller IV archives located in the WVU Libraries.

In November 2014, Rockefeller and WVU announced the naming of the John D. Rockefeller IV School of Policy and Politics at WVU within the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences. In addition to the announcement, Rockefeller and WVU designated the WVU Libraries as the permanent home of the John D. Rockefeller IV Senatorial Archives and dedicated the John D. Rockefeller IV Gallery in the WVU Downtown Library in honor of the Democratic senator’s nearly 50 years of public service to the citizens of West Virginia. For more on the naming and library archives, see earlier news release.

The Rockefeller gift was made in conjunction with A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University. The $1 billion fundraising effort on behalf of WVU runs through December 2017.

WVWRI Project Highlighted in WVU Magazine

Written by WVU Magazine on . Posted in Media, News

The West Virginia Water Research Institute’s project to extract Rare Earth Elements from Coal Mining Waste was recently highlighted in the Spring 2016 Issue of WVU Magazine. Below is an except from that highlight.

Second Life of Mines

Buried in acid mine drainage are elements that the U.S. is almost exclusively importing. And since these elements are in our cell phones, defense applications, GPS technology, medical equipment, DVDs and rechargeable batteries, demand for them is increasing.

Paul Ziemkiewicz, director of the West Virginia Water Research Institute and leader of the project said, “Successful development of this concept will generate an additional revenue stream for the coal industry, create jobs and incentivize acid mining treatment. At the same time, it will reduce U.S. reliance on foreign supplies of rare earth elements.”

READ MORE

PADEP to Test Water at Beth-Center Schools Following WVU Preliminary Report

Written by Scott Beveridge, Observer-Reporter, Washington, PA on . Posted in Media, News

DEEMSTON – The state Department of Environmental Protection will test the water supply to Bethlehem-Center School District next week on the heels of a preliminary report from a university that shows the supply has elevated levels of cancer-causing chemicals.

West Virginia University Water Research Institute, which performed the water test in November and noted unacceptable levels of trihalomethanes at two Beth-Center schools, also will return to the district next week to perform a more in-depth analysis of the water, said Paul Ziemkiewicz, the institute’s director.

“It’s bad news,” Ziemkiewicz said Friday, adding the results from one test were not reason for the school district to panic.

Beth-Center Superintendent Linda Marcolini reached out to the institute last year after being concerned about tests that showed radiation in Ten Mile Creek. WVU performed follow-up tests on the creek and found the water to be within safe limits of radiation.

Read the full article on the Observer-Reporter website.

WVU Leads Efforts to Study Recovery of Rare Earth Elements From Coal Mining Waste

Written by Derek Springston on . Posted in Blog, Media, News

West Virginia could become one of the country’s significant sources for rare earth elements, the “vitamins of modern industry,” without the expense or environmental cost of opening new mines.

Last week, the United States Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory, or NETL, selected West Virginia University to conduct a $937,000 research project in support of DOE’s program to Recover of Rare Earth Elements from Coal and Coal Byproducts.

Rare earth elements, or REEs, are chemical elements in Earth’s crust that are essential ingredients in modern technologies such as cell phones, rechargeable batteries, DVDs, GPS equipment, medical equipment and many defense applications.

Demand for REEs continues to grow, but mining and processing these elements is expensive and difficult. Conventional rare earth extraction grinds large volumes of hard rock and removes rare earths through acid extraction. The process is energy intensive, disturbs large areas of pristine land, and generates large volumes of toxic tailings.

Because of this and the cost of developing domestic sources, the U.S. imports nearly all of its REEs.

There are other methods for obtaining REEs. Some coal-related waste streams are enriched with REEs, sparking interest in evaluation of these wastes as a potential domestic supply.

WVU’s project, “Recovery of Rare Earth Elements from Coal Mine Drainage,” brings together academia, state regulators and industry to collaborate on finding a successful recovery technology for total REEs from acid mine drainage, or AMD.

Paul Ziemkiewicz, director of the West Virginia Water Research Institute and principal investigator for the project, and co-investigators Xingbo Liu, professor of mechanical engineering, and Aaron Noble, professor of mining engineering, will test different sources of AMD solids and methods for extracting valuable REEs.

The team has already identified solids precipitated during treatment of AMD, as an enriched source of REEs, particularly the more valuable, heavy elements.

AMD is a waste stream generated by Appalachian coal mining that is created when sulfide minerals in rocks are exposed to air and water. Active coal mines are required to treat this water resulting in the precipitation of AMD solids which must be disposed of.

In Pennsylvania and West Virginia alone, it is estimated that AMD generates more than 45,000 tons of total REEs per year or about three times the current U.S. demand for total REEs.

The team will work with industry partners Mepco Inc., Consol Energy and Rosebud Mining as well as the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Special Reclamation to not only identify enriched AMD solids but to develop ways to integrate rare earth extraction with their current mine drainage treatment operations.

WVU’s approach capitalizes on the fact that acid mine drainage is an existing source of acid which extracts rare earths from coal-related rock. As the coal industry treats this acid water to meet regulatory requirements it generates huge volumes of solids which require disposal.

“Those solids are our feedstock,” Ziemkiewicz said. “And in a sense, it’s already pre-processed.”

Liu and Noble will develop ways to further concentrate REEs so that it can supply the metal refining industry.

No new mines will be needed to generate this domestic supply of rare earths, and rejects will be returned to the AMD treatment plant’s disposal system requiring a negligible environmental footprint.

“Successful development of this concept will generate an additional revenue stream for the coal industry, create jobs and incentivize acid mining treatment,” Ziemkiewicz said. “At the same time it will reduce U.S. reliance on foreign supplies of rare earth elements.”

The research team acknowledges NETLfor its support of this project and looks forward to working with NETL’s scientists in advancing this technology.

-WVU-

pz-ms/12/14/15

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