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University of North Dakota awarded contract to investigate coal-based resources containing REEs

Published by , Assistant Editor
World Coal,

The US Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy (FE) and the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) have awarded the University of North Dakota a 2-year, US$1.5 million contract to sample and characterise US coal-based resources containing high concentrations of rare earth elements (REEs). The university will also perform a round-robin inter-laboratory study on the analytical methods used to measure the concentration of REEs in US coal-based resources.

REEs comprise a series of 17 chemical elements found in the Earth’s crust. They are essential components of many technologies spanning a range of applications, including electronics, computer and communication systems, transportation, health care, and national defense. The demand for these elements has grown significantly over recent years, stimulating an emphasis on developing economically feasible approaches for domestic REE recovery.

The newly announced contract will support FE’s REE programme, which has characterised many REE-bearing samples of coal and coal byproducts.The University of North Dakota will supplement this work by sampling and characterising US domestic pre-combustion coal and coal-related materials with a minimum REE concentration of 300 ppm, as the material is removed from the ground, with no processing other than drying. The University will also perform a round-robin inter-laboratory study to determine the lab-to-lab and method-to-method variability in analysing the REE content of domestic US based coal resources.

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