Tag Archives: US Department of Energy

Energy Fuels to evaluate rare earth oxide potential from coal-based resources

Energy Fuels Inc, in partnership with a team from Penn State, is to start work on a project evaluating and developing a conceptual design to allow for the commercial production of mixed rare earth oxides (REO) from coal-based resources in an environmentally-benign fashion.

The company said it has been advised by the US Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy (FE) and the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) of their intent to award a contract to Energy Fuels, working with the team from Penn State, on this project. Furthermore, the DOE has the option to award Energy Fuels a contract for the completion of a feasibility study on this initiative, Energy Fuels said.

The DOE has already demonstrated the technical feasibility of extracting rare earth elements (REE) from coal and coal-based resources, including coal refuse, over/under burden materials, power generation ash and the like, but it now wishes to accelerate the advancement of commercially viable technologies to produce REE from these coal-based resource, Energy Fuels says.

Energy Fuels applied for this grant in June 2020, as REEs contained in these coal-based resources are similar to the REEs contained in other materials the company is currently evaluating in its REE program.

The first phase of DOE funding will allow Energy Fuels and the team from Penn State to complete a detailed conceptual design and flowsheet for the potential commercial operation of a facility that produces REOs from coal-based resources, Energy Fuels said. Following this phase, the DOE will conduct a merit evaluation and determine whether to award the funding for the development of a feasibility study.

Mark S Chalmers, President and CEO of Energy Fuels, said: “We are excited to have the opportunity to work with the DOE office of FE, the NETL, and Penn State on this important rare earth initiative. Energy Fuels has been carrying out substantial work over the past year to explore the potential for implementing a commercial rare earth recovery and processing program at our White Mesa Mill (pictured).

“This initiative to produce REOs from coal-based resources is complementary to our ongoing efforts and will potentially broaden the sources of REE feedstock available to us in the future. We also hope this project opens the door for us to work with the DOE and other agencies on future rare earth initiatives.”

BHP teams up with NREL to clean up legacy mining impacts, develop biomass

BHP says it has partnered with the US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to work with local universities to find a sustainable way to both clean up legacy mining impacts and develop biomass to be used as feedstock for biofuels from these impacted lands and water.

The company said: “BHP’s commitment to putting health and safety first, being environmentally responsible, and supporting our communities extends to mine sites that are no longer operating, including those BHP acquired after mining was completed.

“In many cases, historical practices at these sites have resulted in environmental impacts. BHP works hard to address these site-based concerns in collaboration with regulatory agencies and local communities.”

The collaboration between BHP, universities, and research institutes will study species of plants and algae that can be used to aid in cleanup of impacts from uranium mining in the soil and water through phytoremediation, and then produce biodiesel and other value-added products from these brownfield sites in arid climates, BHP said.

This first 24-month programme will identify and test native and other compatible species of algae and plants for their phytoremediation capability and metal uptake as well as safe and efficient ways to process the harvested phytoremediation crops into useful bioproducts. The laboratory and field studies will build on current literature and peer studies, according to BHP.

“The planned programme also intersects with existing work at BHP to accelerate the development of carbon capture systems in a range of applications, noting that many of the nature-based options to remediate land also remove CO2 from the atmosphere,” BHP said. Synergies between these development programmes will be sought, including the potential to enhance CO2 removal rates and accelerate CO2 use “pathways”, it said.

NREL, located in Golden, Colorado, is DOE’s premier National Lab devoted to research and development of renewable energy and materials technologies, according to BHP.

“It focuses on creative answers to today’s energy challenges. These include breakthroughs in fundamental science and new clean technologies to integrated energy systems that power our lives. Through their work, NREL researchers are transforming the way the nation and the world use energy,” BHP said.

The universities involved in this study are the Nuclear Sciences department at Oregon State University, the Sustainable Trades and Advanced Technologies department at Santa Fe Community College, and New Mexico State University Departments of Plant & Environmental Sciences and Chemical & Materials Engineering.