Rare Earth Elements from Coal and Coal By-Products

Technology Partner: National Energy Technology Laboratory – Research and Innovation CenterAward Number: FWP-RIC REE FY2016-2020
Project Duration: 10/01/2015 – 3/31/2021
Total Project Value: $11,868,856

Key Technology Area: Enabling Technologies, Separation Technologies, and Process Systems

The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) is conducting a collaborative Field Work Proposal (FWP) focused on developing methods to locate coal-related reserves with high concentrations of rare earth elements (REEs); developing and testing technologies to extract and concentrate REE from coal and coal-related products with emphasis on pathways that are environmentally benign; and reducing technology commercialization risk through the use of modeling and analysis for process optimization and scale-up. The FWP builds upon past NETL research successes and is designed to complement extramural research efforts. Past efforts were focused on both the development of novel REE recovery technologies and characterization techniques, and understanding the relative distribution of REEs, their chemical forms, and association with other phases or minerals in the REE source materials. Current work is focused on (1) intelligent prospecting methods to predict high concentrations of coal-related

REE reserves and REE forms which are easily extractable; (2) maturing several promising separation pathways; (3) computational fluid dynamic modeling to enhance separation process development; and (4) techno-economic modeling to understand market opportunities, environmental benefits, and process bottlenecks. Each research area is designed to support the portfolio as a whole and to address key knowledge gaps that are not being investigated by industry. Additional research areas include advanced characterization work in support of separations research, novel and exploratory separations research, and the development of prototype devices for real-time REE quantification in liquids and solids for prospecting and process control of separation processes. Novel separations research will focus on high-risk, high- reward recovery technologies and areas of NETL core competencies.

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