Posts Tagged ‘West Virginia University’

WVU Study of Rare Earth Elements Moves to Second Phase

Written by Andrew Stacy on . Posted in Media, News, Press Release

A picture of the WVU Rare Earth Element Project Team.

Members of the Rare Earth Recovery team with a sample of AMD based rare earth feedstocks, Wednesday, August 23, 2017.
Back Row (left to right): Chris Vass, REE extraction plant operator; Dr. Aaron Noble, associate professor, Department of Mining and Minerals Engineering, Virginia Tech; Dr. Xingbo Liu, professor of mechanical engineering, Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, West Virginia University; John Adams, West Virginia University Energy Institute. Front Row: Jennifer Hause, project coordinator, West Virginia Water Research Institute at West Virginia University; Dr. Paul Ziemkiewicz, director, West Virginia Water Research Institute at West Virginia University.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory has selected West Virginia University to move forward with its program to extract valuable rare earth elements, vital to the technology industry, from coal mining by-products.

Phase two of the WVU project – which includes $3.38 million of federal and industry funding – will demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of extracting rare earth elements from acid mine drainage, or AMD. The selection follows two earlier NETL awards to study AMD as a feedstock to bolster U.S. domestic supplies of rare earth elements.

Rare Earth Elements have significant value, being used in modern technologies such as cell phones, rechargeable batteries, DVDs, GPS equipment, medical equipment and various defense applications. Conventional rare earth recovery methods are difficult, expensive and generate large volumes of contaminated waste. Because of this, the U.S. imports nearly all of its rare earth needs from China.

WVU’s project, “Recovery of Rare Earth Elements from Coal Mine Drainage,” will develop a new, domestic source of rare earth elements that will be easily extracted, operate on already permitted sites and produce negligible, new waste materials. In fact, the process may emerge as a way for land owners to generate income from formerly mined properties.

“Mine drainage from abandoned mines is the biggest industrial pollution source in Appalachian streams,” said Dr. Paul Ziemkiewicz, director of West Virginia Water Research Institute and principal investigator on the project.

“As a result, lots of streams that were once ecologically dead, such as the Monongahela and Cheat Rivers, are now valuable recreational fisheries.

“When NETL announced its interest in rare earth recovery it became clear that the mine drainage could be an attractive feedstock for rare earth production. Our research has since focused on finding ways to capture this rare earth resource while incentivizing mine drainage treatment. This project will be a perfect fit to WVU’s mission to create economic opportunity for West Virginians.”

Ziemkiewicz, along with co-investigators Dr. Xingbo Liu, professor of mechanical engineering from the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources at WVU and Dr. Aaron Noble, associate professor at Virginia Tech’s Department of Mining and Minerals Engineering will install a small-scale, continuous extraction facility on the WVU campus.

“The economics of recovering rare earth elements from coal mine drainage appear favorable, and this project will give us the opportunity to develop and optimize the critical separation technologies that will enable commercial-scale production,” said Noble.

The research team will partner with Rockwell Automation to adapt their sensor and control technology and facilitate market readiness. Paul McRoberts and Pete Morell will represent Rockwell Automation on the project team. A global supplier of controls, the company will ensure the success of the project by providing solutions and support services to manage the complex components that will comprise the rare earth extraction process.

John Adams from the WVU Energy Institute will then develop a commercialization plan to move the technology into the marketplace.

-WVU-

ahs/08/24/2017

CONTACT: Paul Ziemkiewicz, West Virginia Water Research Institute
304.293.6958, paul.ziemkiewicz@mail.wvu.edu

Related Press Releases:

    – Appalachian Coal Mine Waste Could Provide Key Ingredients for Clean Energy
    – WVU Study Will Determine Amount of Rare Earth Elements in Region’s Coal Mining Waste
    – WVU Leads Efforts to Study Recovery of Rare Earth Elements from Coal Mining Waste

WVWRI Research Program Introduces Scouts to the Environmental Sciences

Written by Andrew Stacy on . Posted in Events, News, Press Release

Scouts examine an aquatic display.

Scouts examine an aquatic display.

This summer, the West Virginia Water Research Institute will roll out an exciting new program as part of the 2017 National Scout Jamboree held at the Boy Scouts of America’s Summit Bechtel Reserve near Mount Hope, West Virginia.

The West Virginia Outdoor Learning Lab will introduce scouts to the world of environmental science, technology, engineering and math (E-STEM). The Lab will include a series of fun hands-on outdoor activities centered on the BSA.

Through the program, scouts will earn a patch while learning about ecology, biology, water science, wildlife and wetlands. To earn the patch, scouts must pick up a WVOLL activity book and complete four out of the eight activities over the course of the Jamboree. The scouts will use observational skills, critical thinking and modern technology to take measurements, enter data and plot simple graphs to see the results.

“Today’s scouts are computer-savvy and our program will integrate their existing skills with their interest in understanding natural processes. This, in turn, will be a gateway to pursuing higher education in the E-STEM fields and, perhaps careers,” said Dr. Paul Ziemkiewicz, director of the West Virginia Water Research Institute at West Virginia University.

Over the past year, an interdisciplinary team of researchers from the WVU Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design and the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences have worked with WVWRI staff and the BSA to install a network of research equipment to study the climate and ecological makeup of the Reserve. The research forms the basis of a unique interactive curriculum that engages the scouts through E-STEM activities.

The team includes Jim Anderson, professor of wildlife and fisheries resources, Nicolas Zegre, associate professor of forest hydrology, Richard Thomas, professor of biology, Dave Smaldone, associate professor of resource recreation and tourism and Eric Merriam, post-doctoral research assistant.

“We are really excited to showcase this project at the Jamboree,” said Andrew Stacy, WVOLL project manager.
“I think the scouts will enjoy the program we’ve put together. The activities are based outdoors and are fun, interactive and will challenge the scouts to apply themselves.”

The reserve is the BSA’s newest high-adventure camp and is adjacent to the New River Gorge National River and more than 13 miles of the property border the park, providing access to more than 70,000 acres of managed, Appalachian highlands wilderness beyond the summit property. Approximately, 40,000 scouts are expected to be on site for the 2017 National Scout Jamboree, which takes place July 19-28, with about 20,000 cycling through the site every two weeks during the remainder of the summer.

-WVU-

CONTACT: Andrew Stacy, West Virginia Water Research Institute
304.293.7085, astacy@mail.wvu.edu

WVU Study will Determine amount of rare earth elements in the region’s coal mining waste

Written by Andrew Stacy on . Posted in News, Press Release

(Photo credit - WVU University Relations Communications)

(Photo credit – WVU University Relations Communications)

MORGANTOWN, W.VA. –The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory recently awarded West Virginia University (WVU) a project to survey acid mine drainage (AMD) solids to identify the concentration and amount of rare earth elements available in AMD solids.

The new project will sample and analyze AMD solids from 120 AMD treatment sites at coal mines across the northern and central Appalachian coal basins in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio. This follows a February 2016 NETL award to WVU to explore the potential to recover and extract rare earth elements from AMD solids, a project that is currently underway.

Acid mine drainage from pre-law coal mines is a major stream pollutant in the Appalachian region. However, when treated to meet current regulatory requirements, it yields solids that have proven enriched in critical rare earth elements.

“We will work with members of the coal industry and state agencies that are engaged in treating AMD to sample their solids” said Dr. Paul Ziemkiewicz, director of the West Virginia Water Research Institute and principal investigator on the project.

This new effort is in support of the DOE’s ongoing program to recover rare earth elements from coal and coal by-products.

Rare earth elements are vital to the technology industry. These elements have numerous applications and are used in devices such as cell phones, medical equipment and defense applications. Conventional rare earth recovery methods are difficult, expensive and generate large volumes of contaminated waste.
In addition to providing a domestic supply of these critical industrial materials, this approach would incentivize AMD treatment and offset treatment costs while continuing to improve the quality of Appalachian streams.

Appalachian coal mines commonly generate AMD, when sulfide minerals in rock are exposed to air and water. This acid leaches rare earths from coal associated rock where it collects as AMD. Active coal mines are required to treat this AMD, which concentrates and precipitates rare earth elements.

“Together, the rare earths in AMD solids range in value from $45 to $125/kg and our early sampling indicated that AMD solids contain between 0.3 and 1.5 kg of total rare earth elements per ton of AMD solid” said Ziemkiewicz.

Ziemkiewicz, along with co-investigators Xingbo Liu, professor of mechanical engineering, and Aaron Noble, professor of mining engineering, in the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources will estimate the volume of acid mine drainage that is available in the northern and central Appalachian coalfields, as well as the purity and amount of rare earth elements that could be recovered. The research team will be assisted by Ben Faulkner, an independent contractor from Princeton, West Virginia, who has extensive experience with acid mine drainage treatment plants across the Appalachian region.

“Acid mine drainage solids are generated at treatment plants, and Ben’s familiarity with these facilities will be a tremendous asset to the project,” said Ziemkiewicz.

CONTACT: Paul Ziemkiewicz, West Virginia Water Research Institute
304.293.6958, Paul.Ziemkiewicz@mail.wvu.edu