Grants and Contracts Details


The importance of critical materials has been a major international focus over the past decade due to changing energy policies promoting a greater use of renewable energy and the development of new electronic technologies that require rare earth-based materials. The major role that China plays in the supply of rare earth elements (REEs) and the recent volatility in their export policies have generated significant concern in the U.S. regarding the need for a dependable supply. A recent analysis conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey revealed that coal and coal byproducts are a potential source for rare earth elements with the potential of producing 40,000 tons annually of REEs which is twice the amount consumed in the U.S. in 2010. One of the primary U.S. sources of REEs in coal is Kentucky coal seams, especially the Fire Clay coal seam in eastern Kentucky. Studies have shown that the REEs exist as a mineral in the form of monazite, bastnaesite, xenotime and as a mineral substitute in clay. The particle size is typically in the 1 to 10 micron range. This particle size range is similar to the material found in the thickener underflow streams and slurry impoundments at operating coal preparation plants. As such, the recovery of REEs is most favorable from the slurry impoundment material in which the RE minerals are completely or partially liberated sufficiently to allow concentration by a physical separation process such as froth flotation. Other benefits that could be realized from the extraction and recovery of REE’s from impounded slurries are the recovery of coal previously lost due to the lack of the advanced separation technologies available today while also remediating any environment concerns related to the waste slurry. The focus of the study will be the study of the rare earth (RE) elements known to exist in the Fire Clay seam coal in east Kentucky and the extraction processes required to achieve an economic concentration.
Effective start/end date7/1/152/29/16


  • KY Energy and Environment Cabinet: $75,000.00


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.