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M Alvin
NETL Expert to Co-edit Groundbreaking Book on REEs

Mary Anne Alvin, an NETL Technology Manager who has earned multiple awards and holds numerous scientific patents, will serve as co-editor of a new book on rare earth elements (REEs) that’s expected to provide the first comprehensive review of the technologies used to extract and process REEs for the manufacturing of high-tech products.

“Rare Earth Industry Status and Prospects” is scheduled for publication release by Springer Publishing Company in May or June 2021. It will encompass the international scientific community’s expertise across the entire REE value chain — from field deposits through conventional and the latest state-of-the-art extraction, separation and processing methodologies, alloying, critical market sectors, REE application needs, and much more. 

“The development of a reliable and abundant domestic supply of REEs is a priority for our nation. Being able to participate in the editing of a comprehensive, overarching book on rare earths is not only timely, it’s something that hasn’t been done to date, which positions this work as a potentially groundbreaking project,” Alvin said.

She is the right expert for the job. Since 2015, Alvin has served as NETL’s Rare Earth Elements Technology Manager, making her responsible for validating the technical and economic feasibility for separation and recovery of REEs from domestic coal-based resources using conventional, prototype and advanced separation systems.

REEs, which represent the 15 elements of the lanthanide series plus scandium and yttrium, are essential for high-tech manufacturing and are used to produce high-performance optics and lasers, as well as powerful magnets, superconductors, solar panels and valuable consumers products such as smart phones and computer hard drives.

Although abundant in nature, REEs are often found in low concentrations and are challenging to extract. NETL efforts to develop technology to extract REEs from coal and coal byproducts are aimed at reducing U.S. reliance on foreign suppliers and enhancing America’s economic security. “Serving as co-editor will bring an expanded opportunity to interact with outstanding technical experts in an area that is currently viewed as critical to our nation,” Alvin said.

Before serving in her Technology Manager role, Alvin was NETL’s Division Director for the Geosciences Division and the Functional Materials Development Division. Prior to joining NETL, she worked in advanced energy systems at Westinghouse Electric Corp. and Siemens Westinghouse Power Generation, where she authored numerous technical publications and reports and won the prestigious Siemens Westinghouse Eagle Award. Alvin currently holds 28 technical patents as primary or sole inventor.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory develops and commercializes advanced technologies that provide reliable and affordable solutions to America’s energy challenges. NETL’s work supports DOE’s mission to advance the national, economic and energy security of the United States.