Virginia Tech to build a pilot plant

Blacksburg, Va – A team of Virginia Tech researchers has been awarded 6 million dollars by the U. S. Department of Energy to build a pilot plant to extract rare earth elements from coal and coal by-products.

Rare earth elements are a set of 17 unique chemical elements found throughout the earth’s crust and used in a variety of modern technologies, ranging from electronics and communications systems to health care and national defense.   With the closing of the only rare-earths-producing mine in our country, the US is must now rely completely on foreign imports, mainly from China.

The Virginia Tech research team has already developed and patented a system to recover the ultra-fine rare-earth particles, and sees the new project as a continuation of that work.