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  • richardmitnick 10:29 am on July 23, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Rare Earths,   

    From DOE Pulse: “Ames Lab scientist hopes to improve rare earth purification process” 


    July 21, 2014
    Austin Kreber, 515.987.4885,

    Using the second fastest supercomputer in the world, a scientist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory is attempting to develop a more efficient process for purifying rare-earth materials.

    Dr. Nuwan De Silva, a postdoctoral research associate at the Ames Laboratory’s Critical Materials Institute, said CMI scientists are honing in on specific types of ligands they believe will only bind with rare-earth metals. By binding to these rare metals, they believe they will be able to extract just the rare-earth metals without them being contaminated with other metals.

    Nuwan De Silva, scientist at the Ames
    Laboratory, is developing software to help improve purification of rare-earth materials. Photo credit: Sarom Leang

    Rare-earth metals are used in cars, phones, wind turbines, and other devices important to society. De Silva said China now produces 80-90 percent of the world’s supply of rare-metals and has imposed export restrictions on them. Because of these new export limitations, many labs, including the CMI, have begun trying to find alternative ways to obtain more rare-earth metals.

    Rare-earth metals are obtained by extracting them from their ore. The current extraction process is not very efficient, and normally the rare-earth metals produced are contaminated with other metals. In addition the rare-earth elements for various applications need to be separated from each other, which is a difficult process, one that is accomplished through a solvent extraction process using an aqueous acid solution.

    CMI scientists are focusing on certain types of ligands they believe will bind with just rare-earth metals. They will insert a ligand into the acid solution, and it will go right to the metal and bind to it. They can then extract the rare-earth metal with the ligand still bound to it and then remove the ligand in a subsequent step. The result is a rare-earth metal with little or no contaminants from non rare-earth metals. However, because the solution will still contain neighboring rare-earth metals, the process needs to be repeated many times to separate the other rare earths from the desired rare-earth element.

    The ligand is much like someone being sent to an airport to pick someone up. With no information other than a first name — “John” — finding the right person is a long and tedious process. But armed with a description of John’s appearance, height, weight, and what he is doing, finding him would be much easier. For De Silva, John is a rare-earth metal, and the challenge is developing a ligand best adapted to finding and binding to it.

    To find the optimum ligand, De Silva will use Titan to search through all the possible candidates. First, Titan has to discover the properties of a ligand class. To do that, it uses quantum-mechanical (QM) calculations. These QM calculations take around a year to finish.

    ORNL Titan Supercomputer

    Once the QM calculations are finished, Titan uses a program to examine all the parameters of a particular ligand to find the best ligand candidate. These calculations are called molecular mechanics (MM). MM calculations take about another year to accomplish their task.

    “I have over 2,500,000 computer hours on Titan available to me so I will be working with it a lot,” De Silva said. “I think the short term goal of finding one ligand that works will take two years.”

    The CMI isn’t the only lab working on this problem. The Institute is partnering with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Idaho National Laboratory as well as numerous other partners. “We are all in constant communication with each other,” De Silva said.

    See the full article here.

    DOE Pulse highlights work being done at the Department of Energy’s national laboratories. DOE’s laboratories house world-class facilities where more than 30,000 scientists and engineers perform cutting-edge research spanning DOE’s science, energy, National security and environmental quality missions. DOE Pulse is distributed twice each month.

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  • richardmitnick 3:12 pm on March 7, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Rare Earths   

    From INL: “Reverse mining: Scientists extract rare earth materials from consumer products” 

    INL Labs

    Idaho National Laboratory

    March 7, 2013
    Nicole Stricker

    “In a new twist on the state’s mining history, a group of Idaho scientists will soon be crushing consumer electronics rather than rocks in a quest to recover precious materials.

    So-called rare earth elements are deeply embedded in everything from fluorescent light bulbs to smartphones — and they’re critical for electric vehicles, wind turbines and solar panels. Because these materials are subject to supply disruptions, the U.S. Department of Energy is investing in solutions to potential domestic shortages.

    INL scientists will use expertise from recycling nuclear fuel to support the Critical Materials Innovation Hub. The national effort led by DOE’s Ames Laboratory is working to secure the supply of rare earth metals and other energy-critical materials.

    Idaho National Laboratory scientists will contribute to that effort with expertise from recycling fissionable material from used nuclear fuel rods. They’ll now apply similar principles to separate rare earth metals and other critical materials from crushed consumer products. The work could also help improve extraction from the mining process.

    ‘We think of electronics as being a different kind of ore,’ says Eric Peterson, the business line lead for INL’s Process Science & Technology division. ‘Today’s consumer recycling efforts recover about 40 to 50 percent of the critical materials. Our goal is to get that to more like 80 percent recovery.'”

    Scott Herbst helps lead the INL scientists studying ways to recycle rare earth and other critical elements from discarded electronics.

    This is very important work. Other countries have the richest deposits of unmined rare earths. Some of these countries routinely manipulate the world supply. INL is hoping to help shield the U.S. from such tomfoolery. Always be sure to properly recycle discarded items such as those noted at the beginning of the article. See the full article here.

    INL Campus

    In operation since 1949, INL is a science-based, applied engineering national laboratory dedicated to supporting the U.S. Department of Energy’s missions in nuclear and energy research, science, and national defense. INL is operated for the Department of Energy (DOE) by Battelle Energy Alliance (BEA) and partners, each providing unique educational, management, research and scientific assets into a world-class national laboratory.

    • Ovidiu Borchin 4:30 am on May 23, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Dear Sir,
      Please provide us more details.
      Thank you.
      Dr. Ovidiu Borchin
      Carmit Chan Corporation


  • richardmitnick 7:08 pm on January 9, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Rare Earths   

    From ENERGY.GOV: “Ames Laboratory to Lead New Research Effort to Address Shortages in Rare Earth and Other Critical Materials” 

    Ames Laboratory

    January 9, 2013
    No Writer Credit

    “The U.S. Department of Energy announced today that a team led by Ames Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, has been selected for an award of up to $120 million over five years to establish an Energy Innovation Hub that will develop solutions to the domestic shortages of rare earth metals and other materials critical for U.S. energy security. The new research center, which will be named the Critical Materials Institute (CMI), will bring together leading researchers from academia, four Department of Energy national laboratories, as well as the private sector.

    ‘Rare earth metals and other critical materials are essential to manufacturing wind turbines, electric vehicles, advanced batteries and a host of other products that are essential to America’s energy and national security. The Critical Materials Institute will bring together the best and brightest research minds from universities, national laboratories and the private sector to find innovative technology solutions that will help us avoid a supply shortage that would threaten our clean energy industry as well as our security interests,’ said David Danielson, Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

    ‘The Ames Lab is the nation’s premier research center for rare earth materials’ science and technology. In responding to DOE’s call for proposals, Ames assembled a team that offers broad capabilities covering the full spectrum of critical materials research and development, from mining to separations, alloy formulations, component and systems development, and materials recycling. This team will enable the United States to continue as a global leader in research and development in diverse technologies such as communications, control systems and advanced energy systems,’ said U.S. Senator Tom Harkin

    See the full article here.

    Ames Laboratory is a government-owned, contractor-operated research facility of the U.S. Department of Energy that is run by Iowa State University.

    For more than 60 years, the Ames Laboratory has sought solutions to energy-related problems through the exploration of chemical, engineering, materials, mathematical and physical sciences. Established in the 1940s with the successful development of the most efficient process to produce high-quality uranium metal for atomic energy, the Lab now pursues a broad range of scientific priorities.

    Ames Laboratory shares a close working relationship with Iowa State University’s Institute for Physical Research and Technology, or IPRT, a network of scientific research centers at Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.

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  • richardmitnick 9:12 am on June 8, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Rare Earths   

    From Ames Lab: “Ames Laboratory and Korean Institute of Industrial Technology partner on rare-earth research” 

    Events of the past year indicate that this could be very important.

    Debra Covey
    June 7, 2011

    “The U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory announced today that it has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Korean Institute of Industrial Technology, or KITECH. The agreement promotes international collaboration in rare-earth research.

    The memorandum establishes a framework for the Ames Laboratory and KITECH to work together to make advancements in rare-earth processing techniques, to transfer rare-earth discoveries to industrial applications and to educate the next generation of rare-earth scientists and engineers.

    ‘ International challenges call for international collaborations, and this Memorandum of Understanding brings together the principal centers of rare-earth research from South Korea and the United States, said Ames Laboratory Director Alex King. ‘ We look forward to collaborating on projects that benefit both nations.’

    King and KITECH President Kyoung-Hoan Na signed the agreement in Korea in April following the First International Workshop on Rare Metals, sponsored by the Korea Institute for Rare Metals, or KIRAM. King was an invited keynote speaker at the workshop. KIRAM officials also invited King to serve on its International Committee on Rare Metals.

    See the full article here.

  • richardmitnick 3:03 pm on February 15, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Ames Labs, , Rare Earths   

    From Ames Labs: “New Material Provides 25 Percent Greater Thermoelectric Conversion Efficiency” 

    The breakthrough reveals another example of the strategic importance of rare-earth elements

    Evgenii Levin, Associate Scientist, Ames Laboratory
    Rama Venkatasubramanian, RTI International
    Steve Karsjen, Public Affairs

    “Automobiles, military vehicles, even large-scale power generating facilities may someday operate far more efficiently thanks to a new alloy developed at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory. A team of researchers at the Lab that is jointly funded by the DOE Office of Basic Energy Sciences, Division of Materials Sciences and Engineering and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, achieved a 25 percent improvement in the ability of a key material to convert heat into electrical energy.

    See the full article here.

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