Researchers look at producing rare elements from ND coal
GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) — Researchers plan to spend the next year looking at whether it might be possible to recover some of the rare elements used to make magnets for electric motors and cell phones, batteries and other high-tech products from North Dakota’s coal seams.
It’s already been proven that some rare earth elements such as neodymium and lanthanum and other critical minerals can be found in the state’s coal, but it’s not clear whether there are enough of those elements to make it economical to produce them.
One of the things hardest to predict is the future price of these elements since so few of them are produced. Plus, it’s hard to predict whether a new use may be developed for one of the elements that could lead to a surge in demand.
The $2.45 million University of North Dakota research project received state and federal grants and financial backing from the coal industry.
Currently, most of the world’s supply of rare earth elements comes from China.
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