CMI Project 1.2.2 Enhancing critical mineral separation for sustainable extraction

Rare earth element (REE) separations remain a grand challenge, accounting for the major cost in producing purified REEs from ore. The current state-of-the-art for industrial REE separations utilizes solvent extraction with phosphonic acids, a complex process notorious for its excessive chemical consumption, wastewater effluents, and hundreds of processing steps required to produce individual purified REEs. This project seeks to facilitate domestic REE production by developing a technology for the separation of all critical REEs using a two-ligand approach that combines lipophilic and hydrophilic neutral ligands with contrasting selectivity.