MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — The U.S. Energy Department has selected West Virginia University for the second phase of research in a project that would recover rare earth elements from coal mine drainage.

U.S. Sens. Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin announced the $2.7 million grant Thursday.

The West Virginia senators say in a statement that the project uses acid mine drainage solids to recover rare earth elements and other useful materials.

WVU says rare earth elements have numerous applications and are used in devices such as cell phones, medical equipment and defense applications. The university says conventional recovery methods are difficult, expensive and generate large volumes of contaminated waste.