High Yield and Economical Production of Rare Earth Elements from Coal Ash

PSI of Andover, Mass., has been awarded a research contract from the Department of Energy to develop and demonstrate a pilot scale plant to economically produce salable REYSc (rare earth element-rich concentrates including yttrium and scandium) and commercially viable co-products from coal ash using environmentally safe, and high-yield physical and chemical enrichment processes.

Our team comprises Physical Sciences Inc (PSI), University of Kentucky/Center for Applied Energy Research (UK/CAER), Lexington, KY, and Winner Water Services, LLC, Sharon, PA (WWS). We will develop modular, transportable pilot plant designs with decoupled operating capacities for physical processing of coal ash, followed by chemical processing, and demonstrate the REYSc separation/enrichment technology. The physical pilot plant at the CAER facility in Lexington, KY and the WWS facility in Sharon, PA will be utilized. The chemical pilot will produce REYSc-enriched concentrate and demonstrate the high recovery/recycling of reagent at very high efficiency. We will also validate our techno-economic model of REYSc recovery from coal ash using the results from physical and chemical pilot plant operations. The pilot plant technology demonstration of high-yield, high-enrichment recovery of REYSc from coal ash, together with the validated techno-economic model, will enable scale-up to profitable commercial REYSc production in the U.S.

Both critical heavy rare earth elements, and the emerging high performance alloying element scandium, will be producible domestically, thus eliminating U.S. dependence on foreign imports of strategic materials that are subject to supply chain disruptions in crisis situations. The utilization of coal mining/coal combustion products in environmentally benign ways to produce commercially viable rare earth materials will create new chemicals manufacturing jobs and stimulate local economies in the coal-producing and coal-fired power generating regions of the U.S.

Read the Green Car Congress Article: DOE Lab, partners find high concentrations of rare earth elements in American coal basins

For further information contact:
Dr. Prakash Joshi

Physical Sciences Inc.
20 New England Business Center
Andover, MA 01810
Telephone: (978) 689-0003
Fax: (978) 689-3232