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Extracting Value from Acid Mine Drainage
At NETL, finding ways to extract valuable elements from acid mine drainage — efforts that could help foster economic revitalization in energy communities

Director’s Corner

by Brian Anderson, Ph.D.

Acid mine drainage (AMD) can have devastating effects on waterways, groundwater and aquatic ecosystems. AMD can also corrode bridges and other parts of the infrastructure. In the United States, more than 12,000 miles of streams and rivers are degraded by AMD, mostly originating in abandoned mines. It’s no surprise that AMD disproportionately affects our nation’s coal and power plant communities that have been essential to the growth of the United States. 

At NETL, our talented team of scientist and engineers are driving innovation and delivering solutions to further environmental remediation efforts to prevent environmental damage that harms communities and poses a risk to public health and safety. We’re also finding ways to extract valuable elements from this toxic waste product — efforts that could help foster economic revitalization in energy communities.  

Throughout July, we’ll be featuring our efforts to remove toxic metals that flow from our nation’s mines and how AMD can be a source of rare earth elements (REEs) and critical materials (CMs) that are necessary for production of medical equipment, clean energy components, electronics and much more. NETL research is focused on extracting, separating and recovering REEs and CMs from coal and coal-based resources, including AMD. 

Tune in to our newsroom and social media platforms throughout July to read more about how: 

  • NETL’s award-winning Multi-functional Sorbent Technology can generate clean water for mining communities and represents a game-changing, low-cost process to mitigate the devastating effects of AMD. 
  • NETL is working with external partners to power progress on technologies for recovering REEs from AMD and fly ash by developing and testing the technologies that industry will need to establish a domestic supply chain. 
  • NETL is leading the charge to develop the nation’s CM and REE supply chains while simultaneously helping disadvantaged communities become critical to the nation’s low-carbon energy future. 

These are just a few examples of our work to enable environmental sustainability for all Americans. Our researchers are hard at work to deliver integrated solutions that will enable transformation to a sustainable energy future, and I’m proud to share a few examples of their success.