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Title: Economical and Environmentally Benign Extraction of Rare Earth Elements (REES) from Coal & Coal Byproducts

Abstract

This final report provides a complete summary of the activities, results, analytical discussion, and overall evaluation of the project titled “Economical and Environmentally Benign Extraction of Rare Earth Elements (REES) from Coal & Coal Byproducts” under DOE Award Number DE-FE-0027155 that started in March 2016 and ended December 2017. Fly ash was selected as the coal-byproduct source material due to fact that it is readily available with no need for extensive methods to obtain the material, it is produced in large quantities (>50 million tons per year) and had REE concentrations similar to other coal-byproducts. The selected fly ash used throughout this project was from the Mill Creek power generating facility operated by Louisville Gas and Electric located in Louisville, KY and was subjected to a variety of physical and chemical characterization tests. Results from fusion extractions showed that the selected fly-ash had a TREE+Y concentration of 480 ppm with critical REEs concentration of 200 ppm. The fly ash had an outlook ratio of 1.25 and an estimated value of $16-$18 worth of salable REEs per 1-tonne of fly ash. Additional characterizations by optical evaluation, QEMSCAN, XRD, size fractionation, and SEM analysis showed the fly ash consisted of small glassymore » spherules with a size range between 1 to 110 µm (ave. diam. of 13 um), was heterogeneous in chemical composition (main crystalline phases: aluminum oxides and iron oxides) and was primarily an amorphous material (75 to 80%). A simple stepped approach was completed to estimate the total REE resource quantity. The approach included REE characterization of the representative samples, evaluation of fly-ash availability, and final determination estimated resource availability with regards to REE grade on a regional and national scale. This data represents the best available information and is based upon the assumptions that the power generating facility where the fly-ash was obtained will use the same coal sources (actual mines were identified), the coal materials will have relatively consistent REE concentrations, and the REE extraction process developed during this project can achieve 42% REE recovery (validated and confirmed). Calculations indicated that the estimated REE resource is approximately 175,000 tonnes with a current estimated value of $3,330MM. The proposed REE extraction and production process developed during this project used four fundamental steps; 1) fly-ash pretreatment to enhance REE extraction, 2) REE extraction by acid digestion, 3) REE separation/concentration by carbon adsorption and column chromatography, and 4) REE oxide production. Secondary processing steps to manage process residuals and additional processing techniques to produce value-added products were incorporated into the process during the project. These secondary steps were not only necessary to manage residuals, but also provided additional revenue streams that offset operational and capital expenditures. The process produces one value product stream (production of zeolite Na-P1), a solids waste stream, and one liquid stream that met RCRA discharge requirements. Based upon final design criteria and operational parameters, the proposed system could produce approximately 200 grams of REOs from 1-tonne of fly-ash, thereby representing a TREE+Y recovery of 42% (project target of > 25%). A detailed economic model was developed to evaluate both CAPEX and OPEX estimates for systems with varying capacities between 100 kg to 200 tonnes of fly ash processed per day. Using a standard system capacity of 10 tonne/day system, capital costs were estimated at $88/kg fly ash while operating costs were estimated at approximately $450/kg fly ash. This operating cost estimate includes a revenue of $495/tonne of fly ash processed from the value-added product produced from the system (zeolite Na-P1). Although operating cost savings due to zeolite production were significant, the capital + operating cost for a 10 tonne system was more expensive than the total dollar value of REEs present in the fly ash material. Specifically, the estimated cost per 1-tonne of fly ash treated is approximately $540 while the estimated value of REEs in the fly ash is $18-$20/tonne. This is an excessive difference showing that the proposed process is not economically feasible strictly on the basis of REE revenue compared to extraction costs. Although the current proposed system does not produce sufficient quantities of REEs or additional revenue sources to offset operational and capital costs, supplementary factors including US strategic concerns, commercial demands, and defense department requirements must be factored. At this time, the process developed during this project provides foundational information for future development of simple processes that require low capital investment and one that will extract a valuable quality and quantity of REE oxides from industrial waste.« less

Authors:
 [1]
  1. Tusaar Inc., Lafayette, CO (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Tusaar Inc., Lafayette, CO (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Fossil Energy (FE)
OSTI Identifier:
1430514
Report Number(s):
DOE-Tusaar-0027155
FE-0027155
DOE Contract Number:  
FE0027155
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
01 COAL, LIGNITE, AND PEAT; fly ash: REEs; acid digestion; adsorption; caustic pretreatment

Citation Formats

Carlson, Gary. Economical and Environmentally Benign Extraction of Rare Earth Elements (REES) from Coal & Coal Byproducts. United States: N. p., 2018. Web. doi:10.2172/1430514.
Carlson, Gary. Economical and Environmentally Benign Extraction of Rare Earth Elements (REES) from Coal & Coal Byproducts. United States. doi:10.2172/1430514.
Carlson, Gary. Fri . "Economical and Environmentally Benign Extraction of Rare Earth Elements (REES) from Coal & Coal Byproducts". United States. doi:10.2172/1430514. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1430514.
@article{osti_1430514,
title = {Economical and Environmentally Benign Extraction of Rare Earth Elements (REES) from Coal & Coal Byproducts},
author = {Carlson, Gary},
abstractNote = {This final report provides a complete summary of the activities, results, analytical discussion, and overall evaluation of the project titled “Economical and Environmentally Benign Extraction of Rare Earth Elements (REES) from Coal & Coal Byproducts” under DOE Award Number DE-FE-0027155 that started in March 2016 and ended December 2017. Fly ash was selected as the coal-byproduct source material due to fact that it is readily available with no need for extensive methods to obtain the material, it is produced in large quantities (>50 million tons per year) and had REE concentrations similar to other coal-byproducts. The selected fly ash used throughout this project was from the Mill Creek power generating facility operated by Louisville Gas and Electric located in Louisville, KY and was subjected to a variety of physical and chemical characterization tests. Results from fusion extractions showed that the selected fly-ash had a TREE+Y concentration of 480 ppm with critical REEs concentration of 200 ppm. The fly ash had an outlook ratio of 1.25 and an estimated value of $16-$18 worth of salable REEs per 1-tonne of fly ash. Additional characterizations by optical evaluation, QEMSCAN, XRD, size fractionation, and SEM analysis showed the fly ash consisted of small glassy spherules with a size range between 1 to 110 µm (ave. diam. of 13 um), was heterogeneous in chemical composition (main crystalline phases: aluminum oxides and iron oxides) and was primarily an amorphous material (75 to 80%). A simple stepped approach was completed to estimate the total REE resource quantity. The approach included REE characterization of the representative samples, evaluation of fly-ash availability, and final determination estimated resource availability with regards to REE grade on a regional and national scale. This data represents the best available information and is based upon the assumptions that the power generating facility where the fly-ash was obtained will use the same coal sources (actual mines were identified), the coal materials will have relatively consistent REE concentrations, and the REE extraction process developed during this project can achieve 42% REE recovery (validated and confirmed). Calculations indicated that the estimated REE resource is approximately 175,000 tonnes with a current estimated value of $3,330MM. The proposed REE extraction and production process developed during this project used four fundamental steps; 1) fly-ash pretreatment to enhance REE extraction, 2) REE extraction by acid digestion, 3) REE separation/concentration by carbon adsorption and column chromatography, and 4) REE oxide production. Secondary processing steps to manage process residuals and additional processing techniques to produce value-added products were incorporated into the process during the project. These secondary steps were not only necessary to manage residuals, but also provided additional revenue streams that offset operational and capital expenditures. The process produces one value product stream (production of zeolite Na-P1), a solids waste stream, and one liquid stream that met RCRA discharge requirements. Based upon final design criteria and operational parameters, the proposed system could produce approximately 200 grams of REOs from 1-tonne of fly-ash, thereby representing a TREE+Y recovery of 42% (project target of > 25%). A detailed economic model was developed to evaluate both CAPEX and OPEX estimates for systems with varying capacities between 100 kg to 200 tonnes of fly ash processed per day. Using a standard system capacity of 10 tonne/day system, capital costs were estimated at $88/kg fly ash while operating costs were estimated at approximately $450/kg fly ash. This operating cost estimate includes a revenue of $495/tonne of fly ash processed from the value-added product produced from the system (zeolite Na-P1). Although operating cost savings due to zeolite production were significant, the capital + operating cost for a 10 tonne system was more expensive than the total dollar value of REEs present in the fly ash material. Specifically, the estimated cost per 1-tonne of fly ash treated is approximately $540 while the estimated value of REEs in the fly ash is $18-$20/tonne. This is an excessive difference showing that the proposed process is not economically feasible strictly on the basis of REE revenue compared to extraction costs. Although the current proposed system does not produce sufficient quantities of REEs or additional revenue sources to offset operational and capital costs, supplementary factors including US strategic concerns, commercial demands, and defense department requirements must be factored. At this time, the process developed during this project provides foundational information for future development of simple processes that require low capital investment and one that will extract a valuable quality and quantity of REE oxides from industrial waste.},
doi = {10.2172/1430514},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {2018},
month = {3}
}