Lead University: Lehigh University
PI: Jonas Baltrusaitis
Co-PIs: Carlos E. Romero and Zheng Yao

This proposal is for a research project on a metal extraction concept that uses chelate enhanced supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) to recover Rare Earth Elements (REEs) from coal and coal by-products. The ongoing development of advanced technologies has created an increasing demand for REEs in the international markets. REEs play a critical role in high-tech industries such as cell phones, computers, electric cars, satellite communication and medical detection systems among others. It is of critical importance for the U.S., an economically competitive supply of REEs to maintain America’s economic growth and national security. Coal and coal byproducts contain significant amounts of REEs and federal government agencies are interested in supporting research on novel approaches for REE recovery and reuse. The intention is to use the proposed project to launch a research program at Lehigh University that aims at achieving proof of concept, optimization of metallurgical method with chelate enhanced sCO2, and construction and operational demonstration of a small-scale REE recovery apparatus. The results of the proposed research will be used to develop a strategy to procure further support for a REE recovery program at Lehigh University, using a combination of internal and industrial funding, as well as state and federal grants, and industry participation.