Pilot-Scale Testing of An Integrated Circuit for the Extraction of Rare Earth Minerals and Elements from Coal and Coal By-products Using Advanced Separation Technologies Email Page
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Performer: University of Kentucky - Kinkead Hall
Schematic representation of integrated separation/recovery circuit
Schematic representation of integrated separation/recovery circuit
Website: University of Kentucky Research Foundation
Award Number: FE0027035
Project Duration: 03/01/2016 – 03/31/2020
Total Award Value: $8,820,009
DOE Share: $6,999,797
Performer Share: $1,820,212
Technology Area: Rare Earth Recovery
Key Technology: Separation Technologies
Location: Lexington, Kentucky

Project Description

The project team, led by the University of Kentucky, will develop low cost, environmentally benign separations processes to recover REEs from coal and coal by-products. The innovative technology in the proposed system includes an advanced froth flotation process and a novel hydrophobic-hydrophilic separation process.  The team proposes to use the hydrophobic-hydrophilic separation (HHS) process to recover the coal due to its demonstrated ability to produce low-ash, low-moisture products from ultrafine refuse. The reject stream from the HHS process will be conditioned with a hydrophobizing agent and subsequently treated by flotation and/or the HHS process to recover REMs. The concentrate will be ground to further liberate the REMs to maximize recovery and increase the rare earths concentration to above 2% by weight (wt%). The reject stream, consisting mostly of clay minerals and fine clay rocks, will be treated with ammonium sulfate to extract rare earth ions from the surface of the clay by an ion-exchange mechanism. The extracted ions will be precipitated before or after solvent extraction and the precipitates combined with the REM concentrate to obtain a final concentrate containing 2 wt% REMs.

Project Benefits

The proposed pilot-scale circuit is expected to have a dry solids feed capacity of 1/4 ton per hour and be capable of producing up to 5-7 pounds per hour of rare earth mineral concentrates with purity levels of at least 2 wt% REEs.  The project team will optimize separation methods (i.e., flotation, hydrophobic-hydrophilic separation (HHS), and ion exchange leaching) to determine the most cost effective and environmentally benign separation method.

Contact Information

Federal Project Manager Charles E. Miller: charles.miller@netl.doe.gov
Technology Manager Mary Anne Alvin: maryanne.alvin@netl.doe.gov
Principal Investigator Rick Honaker: rick.honaker@uky.edu


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