Colorado School of Mines and Idaho National Laboratory Boost Five-Year Research Partnership

The Colorado School of Mines and Idaho National Laboratory (INL) are set to enhance their research collaboration for the next five years, focusing on areas such as energy storage, geothermal energy, and progressive mining. The partnership follows the framework of a memorandum of understanding signed in late October.

“Our two institutions have an extensive overlap in research focus, ranging from high-temperature electrolysis for hydrogen generation to the extraction and processing of vital resources for energy conversion,” says Mike Kaufman, Colorado School of Mines’ director of Materials and Energy Initiatives. He highlights potential synergies that both institutions can tap into.

Travis McLing, INL’s co-lead for critical minerals research, underscores the strengths each institution brings to their partnership. He refers to the “Mines of the Future” concept, envisioning more efficient and environment-friendly extraction of critical minerals. “INL has the technological upper hand with remote sensors and machine learning,” he states. “Meanwhile, the Colorado School of Mines leads the application of advanced science to actual mining.”

Further plans for collaboration involve an expansion of the school’s nuclear energy research program and its application to mining processes. Prominent Colorado School of Mines professor Thomas Albrecht-Schoenzart will join a shared agreement with INL. He is globally recognized for his work on the bonding and reactions of actinide materials, i.e., radioactive elements vital to nuclear chemistry. He will associate with INL’s Glenn T. Seaborg Institute, focused on fostering U.S. leadership in actinide science.

Institute director Rory Kennedy sees the joint appointment as a chance to allure young researchers towards internships, graduate fellowships, postdoctoral assignments and career positions at INL. It also promises opportunities for INL staff, interns, and postdocs to work at or visit the Colorado School of Mines.

Since the 1950s, when it began as the National Reactor Testing Station, INL has consistently lead in actinide science. This expertise now converges with the Colorado School of Mines’ resources to add momentum to the five-year collaboration.