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NETL research is empowering the dual benefit of a domestic source of #REEs and a sustainable use for our abundant carbon ore resources.
Extracting Critical Materials for High-Tech Needs

Director’s Corner

by Brian Anderson, Ph.D.

Modern society relies on high-tech devices for nearly every aspect of our daily lives, and high-tech devices rely on rare earth elements (REEs). Hundreds of products across many applications, including cell phones, electronic displays, computer hard drives, hybrid vehicles and defense guidance systems must have REEs to operate. Traditionally, the U.S. has imported a large portion of its REEs and critical minerals (CMs), but DOE supports numerous research projects to create a domestic REE supply chain using the nation’s historic energy resources. Through these efforts, NETL research is empowering the dual benefit of a domestic source of REEs and a sustainable use for our abundant carbon ore resources.  

This month, NETL is featuring its work with REEs and CMs, including: 

  • NETL-partnered projects through the Carbon Ore, Rare Earth and Critical Minerals (CORE-CM) initiative, which will help to secure a domestic supply of REEs and CMs crucial to the manufacture of clean energy technologies.
  • NETL collaborations with universities and companies across the country that are conducting feasibility studies to extract REEs and other CMs from carbon ore and its waste materials.   
  • NETL’s leadership in the development of advanced technologies to produce a sustainable supply chain of REEs and CMs from domestic resources and end offshore dominance of the market.   

These are just a few examples. Our researchers take seriously the Lab’s commitment to drive innovation and deliver solutions for an environmentally sustainable and prosperous energy future, and our work to find productive uses of REEs and CMs is a key part of this mission. By enabling extraction of REEs and CMs from carbon ore and waste materials, we support revitalization in regions across the country that face economic adversity due to declines in demand for coal to fuel power plants. Expanding existing and developing new environmentally sound uses for carbon ore and deploying these technologies in energy communities will encourage job creation as the nation transitions to clean energy. These efforts will also help ensure that coal communities do not disproportionately bear the cost of the energy transition.

At NETL, our research aims to make a positive impact on people’s lives, and our REE-CM work is a powerful example of how NETL innovation and technology development is shaping a brighter, sustainable future as we work toward decarbonization and net-zero energy production. Please visit the NETL website to learn more about this exciting area of innovation.