Tuesday, May 24, 2016

USA: DOE Announces R&D Awards to Recover Critical Materials from Geothermal Fluids

Energy Department Awards Up to $4 Million for Projects to Recover Critical Materials from Geothermal Fluids (News Release)

The U.S. Energy Department today announced four research and development (R&D) projects in California, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming that will receive up to $4 million in total funding to assess the occurrence of rare-earth minerals and other critical materials that may be dissolved in higher-temperature fluids associated with energy extraction. Critical materials like rare-earth elements and lithium play a vital role in many clean energy technologies, including solar panels, wind turbines, electric vehicles, and energy-efficient lighting. More of these materials—which are of high value or critical to U.S. businesses and other national interests—may become available and economically recoverable through this research.

The selected R&D projects are:
  • Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), Livermore, California—LLNL will use bioengineered microbes in the design and operation of a rare-earth enrichment and separation process to efficiently deliver high-purity products from geothermal fluids.
  • Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richmond, Washington—PNNL will demonstrate a magnetic nanofluid approach to recover rare-earth minerals and other high-value materials from geothermal fluids.
  • University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah—University of Utah will perform a resource assessment of the western United States to identify high-value materials in geothermal fluids and other fluids produced from energy projects.
  • University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming—University of Wyoming will assess rare-earth element concentrations in waters produced by geothermal and oil and gas projects.