News Release

Release Date: November 21, 2016

NETL Selects Projects to Enhance Research into Recovery of Rare Earth Elements from Domestic Coal and Coal By-Products


The Energy Department’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) has selected five new projects to receive funding for research in support of the laboratory’s effort to identify and characterize coal and coal by-products containing high concentrations of Rare Earth Elements (REE).

The 18-month projects will focus on the identification, field sampling, and chemical analysis of domestic coal and coal by-products from different geological regions across the United States in order to identify areas where REEs are located in high concentrations (greater than 300 parts per million).

REEs, a group of 17 elements from the periodic table, are an integral component of many high-technology products, including smart phones, lasers, DVDs, LEDs, and computer hard drives. The development of an economically competitive domestic supply of REEs will help fuel our nation’s economic prosperity and increase our national security. It also offers the potential to create new industries in regions where coal has historically played an important economic role.

NETL’s Rare Earth Elements Program is focused on meeting these challenges through collaborative research focused on the identification and recovery of REEs in an economically feasible and environmentally responsible manner from domestic coal and coal by-products. The newly selected projects supplement existing program research.

Organizations receiving funding are Tetra Tech Inc. (Fort Collins, CO), Tetra Tech Inc. (Pittsburgh, PA), University of Kentucky Research Foundation (Lexington, KY), West Virginia University Water Resources Research Institute (Morgantown, WV), and XLight Corporation (Morristown, NJ).