Skip to comments.US coal ash highly rich in rare earths, scientists find
Posted on 05/31/2016 3:41:13 AM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
US scientists have found what it could be key for the future of the countrys ailing coal industry as they detected that ashes from local operations, particularly those around the Appalachian region, are very rich in rare earth elements.
Researchers from North Carolina-based Duke University analyzed coal ashes from coal-fired power plants throughout the US, including those in the largest coal-producing regions: the Appalachian Mountains; southern and western Illinois; and the Powder River Basin in Wyoming and Montana.
One of the team main conclusions was that coal waste generated by the Appalachian coal operations was the richest in rare earth elements, containing 591 milligrams of the coveted elements per kilogram of ashes.
"There are literally billions of dollars' worth of rare earth elements contained in our nation's coal ash," the researchers said in a statement.
"If a program were to move forward, they'd clearly want to pick the coal ash with the highest amount of extractable rare earth elements, and our work is the first comprehensive study to begin surveying the options," they noted.
Not only rare earths are crucial to the manufacture of high-tech devices, but also to military communication systems, which is partially why the US Department of Energy recently offered $20 million to companies to solve the economic puzzle.
Previous research has focused on methods that can make the extraction or rare earths from coal waste not only financially viable, but also environmentally friendly.
Why does anybody Soros and others want to own the coal?
What is and has been done with this ash waste?
It is usually used as a bonding agent in cement.
We buy most rare earths from China. Do they give underpaid minions next to nothing to separate the rare earths from ash?
Duke Energy thought they had the answer...
Just kidding. As someone that has wondered many a NC wood and waterway, that was a horrible situation.
Very interesting. It would be strategic to have domestic supply.
Not likely as heavy metals and rare earth’s are just too small, for the most part, to pick by hand.
Too bad Hg is volatile.
Most ash ends up in landfills. There’s not enough cement being made to absorb the volume of this stuff...
I wonder what is the value of the column piles in the Anthracite Region? And the mine fires in Centralia?
Many coal ashes also have high radioactive contents.
Clinton sealed off all of our best cleanest coal and the only other is in Indonesia and the CHINESE OWN IT!! PAYOFF to CHINA #102 by the Clintons!
RC: At current prices even China's major producers are struggling to make a profit, or just break-even. That fact adds long-term support for higher prices than those of today - particularly as China's industry consolidation continues and illegal production is reduced. So that's good news for a rare earth exploration company that's currently 3 to 8 years from possibly starting up production.
Also, as I mentioned earlier, there are a number of new rare earth processing technologies being developed with potential to slash the capital and operating costs of emerging producers, enabling them to compete on cost and profit margin with Chinas major producers, even at low price levels. These technologies are being developed by companies like Innovation Metals, Ucore Rare Metals (TSXV:UCU), Geomega Resources (TSXV:GMA), Texas Mineral Resources (OTCMKTS:TMRC), and Rare Earth Salts.
Paging James Riady....
Rare earth minerals are always found with thorium (a radioactive substance) and that triggers all sorts of environmental protection regulations. The U.S. doesn’t suffer from lack of rare earths deposits (the west is full of mines shut down by onerous regulations). China has a virtual monopoly on rare earths production because they aren’t burdened by the rules. The last thing a coal-burning plant wants is to have to treat ash as a hazardous waste.
In my years’-long browsing on everything “Thorium” , I recall this talk re creating a national Thorium Bank to kickstart a domestic rare earths industry: http://www.the-weinberg-foundation.org/2012/12/14/why-the-world-needs-a-thorium-bank/
A friend works for the local utility. He travels 5 days a week carrying loads of fly ash from a closed small coal plant to another active plant. There are 100 loads a day of fly ash transported. He does 500 miles a day.
This project has been going on 3.5 years and has another 3.5 years left. The sad part is the plant had another 20-30 years of useful economic life left, but was closed because some non scientist judge deemed CO2, food for all plant life, a pollutant. It is sad because the idiots who prompted this foolish economic decision escape all the accountability for their decision. This plant already had millions of dollars of pollution controls and was burning coal relatively cleanly.
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