Montana State University Billings and MSU Northern will receive research funding secured during the 2015 legislative session in what the governor’s office is calling “Montana’s first-ever large-scale research initiative.”
The announcement came Wednesday from Gov. Steve Bullock and Commissioner of Higher Education Clayton Christian, along with Montana State Northern Chancellor Greg Kegel.
“Today, we’re not only making investments into these research projects, we’re also helping to define what Montana’s economy looks like for years to come,” Bullock said from the Advanced Fuels Building at MSU Northern.
The funding push, known as the Montana Research and Economic Development Initiative, will give MSUB $262,731 to develop soil-bacteria based remediation technology for chlorinated pollutants. MSU Northern’s $800,000 in funding will be used to develop bio-based chemicals and fuels from agricultural crops.
Selected proposals had “to address a Montana problem; to create Montana jobs in existing economic sectors; or to help spur new companies in Montana,” according to the governor’s office.
Montana has one site, the Lockwood Solvent Groundwater Plume, listed on the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Priorities List because of pollution from chlorinated solvents. The principal investigators for the research are MSUB professors Thomas Lewis and Matthew Queen, both of the Department of Biological and Physical Sciences, who respectively specialize in biochemistry and analytical chemistry.
Hoping to produce a patentable, more effective product based on findings from previous research, the remediation technology has the potential to allow on-site treatment that could avoid risks, costs and inefficiencies associated with current methods of “pump and treat” that require contaminated material to be transported to another site for remediation.