ME2C has retained the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences to evaluate the company's rare earth element (REE) technology's capture capacity and regeneration potential under certain conditions. The evaluation period is set to begin in June and run through the end of September 2021.
"Our new REE technology, which we are in process of developing, has yielded exciting preliminary results thus far in its ability to capture rare earth elements in an efficient manner while maintaining the purity of these minerals and reducing the amount of caustic solutions used," stated John Pavlish, chief technology officer of ME2C Environmental.
"Penn State is a notable leader in the research, development, and testing of REE extraction and purification techniques. With their assistance in our research, we are more confident than ever in our ability to deliver a commercially viable technology that may be useful in multiple applications related to mineral mining and coal ash. This next phase of our technology's evaluation with Penn State signifies a pivotal moment in its development, leading to pilot scale testing."
In November 2020, Penn State teamed up with the Colorado School of Mines for a research collaboration that they said will back a domestic demand for critical minerals, including REEs.
ME2C noted that 80% of REEs in the US are currently imported from China. In 2018, the US Department of Energy (DoE) reported that the global demand for rare earth elements was roughly 150,000 short tons (136,078t), and 16,500 short tons (14,969t) in the US.
In October 2020, the DoE Office of Fossil Energy awarded US$1.95 million in federal funding to 13 projects that will develop concept designs for commercially viable technologies that extract rare earth elements (REE) from US coal and coal by-product sources.
In January this year, the DoE announced the recipient list for US$50 million in funding it has allocated to 15 projects that focus on innovative extraction and processing technologies for "critical minerals", including REEs.
With the current US administration's focus on electric transportation and forthcoming environmental regulations, ME2C believes reliance and the need for these critical minerals across the US infrastructure is growing.