Rare Earth Elements From Coal

The information below is drawn from the U.S. Department of Energy National energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) web site.

Key Technology Areas

The REE Program consists of three key technology areas: Enabling Technologies, Separations Technologies, and Process Systems.

Below are links to each of the three technology areas:

Enabling Techologies

Separation Technologies

Process Systems


The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy conducts programs to ensure the availability of ultraclean (near-zero emissions), abundant, low-cost domestic energy from coal. These efforts are designed to fuel economic prosperity, strengthen energy independence, and enhance environmental quality. As the Office of Fossil Energy’s research laboratory, the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) is engaged in research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) activities to create technology and technology-based policy options for public benefit.

As part of its RD&D technology portfolio, NETL has initiated the Rare Earth Elements (REEs) from Coal and Coal By-Products RD&D Program, which focuses on developing REE separation and recovery technologies, addressing the current global REE separations market and process economics, and demonstrating environmentally benign REE separation processing capabilities. The quantities of REEs in our nation’s vast coal resources offer the potential to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign sources for these critical materials, and to create new industries in regionsPROGRAM OBJECTIVES

The overall objectives of NETL’s REE program are to demonstrate the techno-economic feasibility and performance of existing commercial or newly developed REE separation technologies. These technologies are focused on separating and recovering REEs from coal and coal by-products containing a minimum of 300 ppm total REEs, and concentrating the REEs to levels greater than or equal to 2 percent by weight, tentatively producing 90 to 99.99 percent high-purity, salable, individual rare earth metal oxides by the year 2020. These objectives will be accomplished through laboratory REE separation projects and demonstration of concept feasibility at bench- scale through pilot-scale facilities and integrated processing systems. Ultimately, these efforts will ready REE separations technology for commercial deployment. Key success factors for this program include co-production of materials and critical elements, successful demonstration of environmentally benign processing, and competitive economics.



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