News & Highlights
New lixiviant liberates light REEs from insoluble hydroxide mixture
ORNL: Designer molecules may help valuable minerals float
CMI trains students in critical materials research at Ames
Chemical laboratory automation accelerates process development
Economical new chelator delivers binding selectivity for rare earths
Nikki Thiele at Oak Ridge National Laboratory leads "Dissolution by design: selective leaching of rare earth elements using smart lixiviants"
Conventional hydrometallurgical recovery of rare earth elements (REEs) entails brute-force mineral dissolution using non-selective strong acids and bases, followed by hundreds of rounds of solvent extraction to separate the REEs based on their slight differences in ionic radii. These processes render REE recovery inefficient, hazardous, and expensive. This project will determine how to selectively dissolve targeted REEs directly from mineral feedstocks, thereby introducing the element of precision REE separation into the leaching process. To achieve this goal, the project will develop Size-selective MoleculAr Recognition-Tailored (SMART) lixiviants that possess the capacity for both molecular recognition and dissolution of REEs.