Sponsor :   US Department of Energy

Dates :   August 1, 2017 – March 31, 2022

Abstract :   Rare earth elements (REEs) are critical for the development of renewable energy resources, national security, and advanced manufacturing. With the recent closure of the rare earth mine in California, the U.S. relies entirely on foreign imports mainly from China. According to a study commissioned by NETL, the U.S. coal and coal byproducts contain 11 million metric tons of recoverable REEs, which is comparable to the conventional rare earth reserves in the U.S. (Bryan et al., 2015; Minerals Commodity Summary, 2015). One problem associated with the rare earth recovery is that the grain sizes of the rare earth minerals (REMs) in coal matrix are small (<5 μm), which makes he economic recovery difficult using the conventional minerals processing technologies. It is, therefore, necessary to study the fundamental mechanisms involved in the separation and extraction of REEs from coal and coal byproducts.