Evaluation of Laser-Based Analysis of Rare Earth Elements in Coal-Related Materials

Technology Partner: Los Alamos National LaboratoryAward Number: FWP-FE-781-16-FY17

Project Duration: 10/25/2017 – 10/24/2018
Total Project Value: $1,000,000

Key Technology Area: Enabling Technologies

The primary objectives of this effort are (1) to develop and test analytical protocols for analyzing the concentration and mineralogy of rare earth elements in coal-related materials using laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) and Raman spectroscopy; (2) to develop a field-portable system for LIBS and Raman analysis of rare earth elements (REE) in coal-related material; and (3) to analyze the concentration and mineralogy of REE in a variety of coal-related materials principally from New Mexico coal deposits. The project is divided into two tasks. In task 1 the team will construct a field-portable prototype unit for LIBS/Raman analysis of REE in coal-related materials; field test and demonstrate the unit at New Mexico field sites; revise analytical protocols as applicable. Researchers will take advantage of the extensive experience of Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in developing LIBS for quantitative analysis of various elements in various matrices, and will use this expertise

to develop protocols for analysis of REEs in coal-related materials. LANL has made recent institutional investments (through laboratory directed research and development) to develop a combined LIBS plus Raman system that can determine both chemistry (LIBS) and physical form (Raman); researchers will use this new system to explore simultaneous chemical and mineralogical analysis of REE in coal-related materials. In task 2 the team will develop analytical methods specific to the quantification of REE in various coal- related materials, developing a broader database on REE concentrations and physical forms in a variety of coal-related materials. This step is necessary in the development of protocols for quantitative analysis of REE using LIBS. Interpretation of the data requires determining calibration curves for REEs in specific matrices, because plasma generation efficiency can be impacted both by physical form and overall chemistry.

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