Multi-Sourced Collaboration for the Production and Refining of Rare Earth and Critical Metals

Grants and Contracts Details


Funding Agency: U.S. Department of Energy Funding Opportunity No. DE-FOA-0002404 Project Title: MULTI-SOURCED COLLABORATION FOR THE PRODUCTION AND REFINING OF RARE AND CRITICAL METALS Submitted by: Rick Honaker, Josh Werner and Xinbo Yang, Mining Engineering Department February 22, 2021 Proposal Due Date: March 1, 2021, 11:59 PM PUBLIC ABSTRACT The supply of rare earth elements and critical materials has been the subject of several research programs funded by the U.S. over the past decade. The importance has been magnified by recent international geopolitical forces and the accelerated manufacturing of renewable energy technologies, electric vehicles and other advanced technologies that require ample supply in order to establish production lines. The supply chain involves extraction of rare earths and other critical elements from primary and secondary sources followed by purification, refining and metal production. University of Kentucky researchers have been a leader in developing and testing extraction and purification technologies through both lab-scale and pilot- scale test programs. This project will utilize researchers at prominent research universities and a national laboratory as well as a resource owner and a vertically integrated rare earth and future magnet producer to identify, evaluate and propose a detailed research program that may be the subject of a potential Phase 2 effort. The proposal targets Area-of-Interest 1a in Funding Opportunity Announcement DE-FOA-0002404, which involves the production of individual rare earth oxides/salts, rare earth metals and other critical metals from coal-based sources. The project team includes the University of Kentucky as the Prime Contractor, University of Alabama, Virginia Tech, Argonne National Laboratory, Alliance Coal and MP Materials. The proposal represents Phase 1 of the program in which the project team will be focused on specific technologies for metal production including high temperature electrolysis, low temperature membrane technology, ionic liquid electrolysis and plasma-assisted metal distillation. The team will also investigate novel approaches to refining the rare earth elements including solvent-assisted chromatography and advanced extractants. Phase 1 efforts will involve the collection of existing information and data generated from fundamental modeling to assist in the development of advanced process flowsheets followed by a preliminary techno-economic analysis. A detailed technical research plan will be developed based on the team’s findings which will serve as guidance for a potential Phase 2 investigation.
Effective start/end date12/1/212/28/23


  • Department of Energy: $199,989.00


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