High Yield and Economical Production of Rare Earth Elements from Coal Ash

Technology Partner: Physical Sciences, Inc.Award Number: FE0027167

Project Duration: 3/1/2016 – 3/31/2020Total Project Value: $8,750,166

Key Technology Area: Process SystemsProject Partners: University of Kentucky

In this Phase 2 project, the team of Physical Sciences, Inc. (PSI), University of Kentucky/Center for Applied Energy Research, and Winner Water Services will develop and demonstrate a pilot scale plant to economically produce salable rare earth element (REE)- rich concentrates including yttrium and scandium (REYSc) and commercially viable co-products from coal ash feedstock using environmentally safe and high-yield physical and chemical enrichment/recovery processes. The pilot plant will operate at the scale of approximately 0.4-1 tons per day (tpd) ash throughput for physical processing and about 0.5 tpd for chemical processing, producing at least 50 grams (g) of dry REYSc nitrates concentrate containing more than 10 percent by weight of REYSc, and targeting 500 g of dry REYSc nitrates concentrate containing more than 20 percent REYSc by weight. The ash feedstock will come from the Dale power plant in Ford, Kentucky, with at least 300 parts per million (ppm) of REYSc content, though more than 500 ppm is anticipated. The data obtained from

the pilot plant operations will be used to enhance and validate the techno-economic analysis that was completed for both the physical and chemical processing plants at a scale of 600 tpd in Phase 1, and use it to design a commercial scale plant (hundreds of tpd throughput) with return on investment in less than seven years. Development and demonstration of modular, transportable pilot-scale physical and chemical plants for REYSc recovery from coal ash, including enhancement and validation of a techno- economic model of pilot plant operations data, will enable the design of a commercial-scale (approximately hundreds of tpd) REYSc plant. Demonstration of PSI’s technology to recover REYSc from coal ash will enable utilization of coal mining/coal combustion waste product in environmentally benign ways to produce REEs of strategic importance for the United States while generating jobs and economic growth in economically- depressed regions of this country.

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