Nondestructive, Bulk Rare Earth Element Measurement System for Coal

Technology Partner: Adelphi Technology, Inc.Award Number: SC0017943

Project Duration: 6/12/2017 – 3/11/2018Total Project Value: $215,851

Key Technology Area: Enabling Technologies

Adelphi Technology will develop a field deployable commercial prototype instrument capable of non- destructively determining the elemental composition of nearly any sample using neutron activation analysis (NAA). Detection and concentration measurement of rare earth elements (REEs) in a sample allows REE reclaim processes to be used cost-effectively by only processing coal containing a sufficiently high concentration of REEs. NAA of an approximately petri- dish-sized sample using a neutron generator and a high- purity germanium detector will be performed on test samples that are representative of real-world samples, but contain known quantities of REEs. The detection

limits for each REE will be determined as a function of neutron flux and sample measurement time for both prompt and delayed NAA under fast and thermal neutron irradiation. Finally, the measurement protocol will be optimized. This project will provide experimental evidence of achievable REE detection limits in a practical real-world system using samples from a mine or burnt-coal processing facility. This research will produce a portable neutron generator capable of accurately measuring the concentration of nearly all elements in a sample, enabling cost-effective REE extraction.


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