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  1. A bioleaching process to extract rare earth elements (REE) from fluidized catalytic cracking (FCC) catalysts was optimized using a heterotrophic bacterium Gluconobacter oxydans to produce organic acids from glucose. Parameters optimized included agitation intensity, oxygen levels, glucose concentrations and nutrient additions. Biolixiviants from the optimized batch process demonstrated REE leaching efficiencies up to 56%. A continuous bioreactor system was subsequently developed to feed a continuous leach process and demonstrated leaching efficiencies of 50%. A techno-economic analysis showed glucose to be the single largest expense for the bioleach process constituting 37.8% of the total cost. The bioleaching plant described here wasmore » found profitable although the margin was small. Lower cost carbon and energy sources for producing the biolixiviant and improved leaching efficiencies would improve profitability as well as sourcing FCC catalysts with higher levels of REE. In conclusion, a life cycle analysis showed that electricity generation and glucose production required for the bioreactor had the largest potential for environmental impacts.« less
  2. Here, precipitation reactions in porous media influence transport properties of the environment and can control advective and dispersive transport. In subsurface environments, mixing of saline groundwater or injected solutions for remediation with fresh groundwater can induce supersaturation of constituents and drive precipitation reactions. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and micro-computed tomography (µ-CT) were employed as complimentary techniques to evaluate advection, dispersion and formation of precipitate in a 3D porous media flow cell. Two parallel fluids were flowed concentrically through the porous media under two flow rate conditions with Na 2CO 3 and CaCl 2 in the inner and outer fluids, respectively.more » Upon mixing, calcium carbonate became supersaturated and formed a precipitate at the interface of the two fluids. Spatial maps of changing local velocity fields and dispersion in the flow cell were generated from MRI, while high resolution imaging of the precipitate formed in the porous media was achieved via µ-CT imaging. Formation of a precipitate layer minimized dispersive and advective transport between the two fluids and the shape of the precipitation was influenced by the flow rate condition.« less

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