The agency said the cost-shared funding earmark will help improve the technical, environmental, and economic performance of new and existing technologies for REE extraction, separation and recovery from domestic coal and its derivatives.
"The development of an economically competitive supply of REEs will help to maintain the nation's economic growth and national security," DOE officials said. "Our vast domestic coal resources contain quantities of REEs that offer the potential to reduce our dependence on others for these critical materials and create new industries in regions where coal plays an important economic role."
The selected projects, to be managed by the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), fall within three areas of interest: Advanced, Novel Technology Development for Initial REE Extraction, Concentrating to ≥ 2 Weight Percent; Optimization of Current State-of-the-Art Separation Technologies for Initial REE Extraction, Concentrating to ≥ 2‒10 Weight Percent; and Technology Advancements for High Purity REE Extractions, Concentrating to 90.0-99.99 Weight Percent.
Under interest area 1, five projects were chosen. They include "Concentrating Rare Earth Elements in Acid Mine Drainage using Coal Combustion By-Products" by The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio (DOE funding: $399,967; total funding: $545,952); "Low-Cost Rare Earth Element Recovery from Acid Mine Drainage Sludge" by Research Triangle Institute in North Carolina (DOE funding: $400,000; total funding: $500,000); "Low-Temperature Plasma Treatment for Enhanced Recovery of Highly Valued Critical REEs from Coal" by the University of Kentucky Research Foundation (DOE funding: $322,352; total funding: $404,969); "Economic Extraction and Recovery of REEs and Production of Clean Value-Added Products from Low-Rank Coal Fly Ash" by the University of North Dakota (DOE funding: $400,000; total funding: $508,812); and "Development of a Cost-Effective Extraction Process for the Recovery of Heavy and Critical Rare Earth Elements from the Clays and Shales Associated with Coal" by the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (DOE funding: $400,000; total funding: $500,000).
Two projects were selected under the second interest area. They include "Economic Extraction, Recovery, and Upgrading of Rare Earth Elements from Coal-Based Resources" by the University of Utah (DOE funding: $399,200; total funding: $499,000) and "Coupled Hydrothermal Extraction and Ligand-Associated Organosilica Media Recovery of REEs from Coal Fly Ash" by the Wayne State University in Michigan (DOE funding: $430,922; total funding: $543,779).
Within interest area 3, two final project were chosen, including "Recovery of High Purity Rare Earth Elements (REEs) from Coal Ash via a Novel Electrowinning Process" by the Battelle Memorial Institute in Ohio (DOE funding: $674,940; total funding: $874,940) and "At-source Recovery of Rare Earth Elements from Coal Mine Drainage" by West Virginia University (DOE funding: $644,060; total funding: $864,258).
The DOE said that the research works will further the goals of its Office of Fossil Energy Rare Earth Elements Program by placing focus on cost-effective, environmentally benign approaches to REE recovery.