CMI Project 3.1.2 Biological separation of clean-energy-critical rare earth elements

The goal of this project is to develop an economical and environmentally sustainable protein-based process for rare earth element (REE) separation from electronic waste (E-waste). Researchers will target separations that range from relatively “easy” (i.e., neodymium (Nd) v. dysprosium (Dy)) to highly challenging (i.e., Dy v. terbium (Tb), and Nd v. praseodumium (Pr)) using size-reduced lanmodulin proteins. By combining the acid-free leaching process with the all-aqueous protein-based REE separation process, researchers anticipate the development of an end-to-end process with significantly lower chemical consumption and environmental impact relative to conventional hydrometallurgical processes.