Biological separation of REE using an immobilized protein

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CMI researchers at Idaho National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Pennsylvania State University conducted the research for this highlight

graphs show Lanmodulin enables high-purity separation of Nd/Dy. A solution comprising a 5:95 mixture of Dy:Nd (pH 3) was subjected to two coupled adsorption/desorption cycles. The first cycle (left panel) generated a high-purity Nd solution (99.9%) and an upgraded Dy (44% Dy/ 56% Nd) solution. The upgraded Dy solution was used as a feed solution in a second adsorption/desorption cycle (right panel) to generate high-purity Dy and Nd fractions. The duration of each pH step is depicted by the dark gray dashed
Lanmodulin enables high-purity separation of Nd/Dy. A solution comprising a 5:95 mixture of Dy:Nd (pH 3) was subjected to two coupled adsorption/desorption cycles. The first cycle (left panel) generated a high-purity Nd solution (99.9%) and an upgraded Dy (44% Dy/ 56% Nd) solution. The upgraded Dy solution was used as a feed solution in a second adsorption/desorption cycle (right panel) to generate high-purity Dy and Nd fractions. The duration of each pH step is depicted by the dark gray dashed.

Innovation
Developed a biological approach for Nd/Dy separation. 

Achievement
5:95 mixture of Dy:Nd separated into high purity Dy (99.2%) and Nd (99.9%) fractions using two column steps with immobilized lanmodulin protein.

Significance and Impact

  • All-aqueous method for tandem extraction and separation of rare earth elements (REE) critical to clean energy technologies.
  • High REE selectivity of lanmodulin offers potential to unlock low-grade unconventional REE sources.
  • Approach will be extended to E-waste feedstock and coupled with bioleaching for sustainable process development.

Hub Target Addressed 
Sustainable method for REE recycling from end-of-life consumer products.

Dong, Z., Mattocks, J.A., Deblonde, G., Dehong, H., Jiao, Y., Cotruvo, J.A.*, and Park, D.M.* Bridging Hydrometallurgy and Biochemistry: A Protein-based Process for Recovery and Separation of Rare Earth Elements, ACS Central Science (In Press).