A Beatrice company is teaming with a nationally known research institute on a project for the U.S. Department of Energy.

Beatrice-based Rare Earth Salts and Columbus, Ohio-based Battelle announced Wednesday that they are collaborating on a "potentially groundbreaking project" to recover rare earth elements from coal fly ash.

The project is for the Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory and is funded by an $875,000 grant.

The project will combine Rare Earth Salts' proprietary separation and purification process with Battelle's acid-digestion process to extract rare earth elements from coal ash in an environmentally safe manner, while converting them to a saleable product.

Rare earth elements are metals that have similar chemical properties and also tend to occur in the same ore deposits. Coal fly ash is a byproduct produced by burning coal.

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