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NETL Debuts Tools for Identifying Domestic Rare Earth Element Deposits

The date of: 2023-07-28
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The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) is helping stakeholders and innovators identify US domestic sources of rare earth elements (REEs) with a number of new solutions that design and manufacturing engineers may find useful. According to NETL, such domestic sources would insulate the United States from disruptions in global trade of REEs.
NETL’s Kelly Rose, technical director of the Science-based Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Institute, said in a news release that “these resources can help stakeholders see where REEs might be found, how much of the minerals might be present, and determine what form the minerals will take.”
NETL’s new tools include:
An interactive story map that provides a visual introduction to critical minerals and related information.
The National Critical Minerals Dashboard with data sets that can be filtered geographically.
The Unconventional Rare Earth and Critical (URC) Mineral resource assessment method to support exploration and evaluation of critical mineral resources associated with unconventional accumulations.
An assessment tool that produces forecasts and map-based analyses for a region of interest.
A study that improves systematic evaluation of critical minerals within rocks, mine waste, coal ash, and more.
“Both the National Critical Mineral Dashboard and the Unconventional REE & Critical minerals (URC) assessment method could be used by the design and manufacturing sector to inform domestic supply and resource potential and optimize decisions in the future to inform and optimize manufacturing needs,” a NETL representative told Design News via email. “The Critical Minerals Dashboard provides a more integrated ability to evaluate what explicit data about unconventional critical minerals and REE exist domestically. The URC assessment method/model is a peer-reviewed, science-based approach to predict/forecast areas with likely unconventional REEs. It can be used to forecast and assess what locations are likely to contain REEs and predict what types of REEs are likely in a given deposit, which informs the engineering technology needed for extraction.”
The National Critical Minerals Data Dashboard “offers users the opportunity to spatially (through the online mapping explorer) understand what critical minerals data exists presently in the U.S., and analytical information through the dashboard about those samples. This type of data is one of the data inputs used in the URC assessment method. Similarly, the data aggregated from thousands of authoritative, individual sources in this dashboard can be used by industry and other sectors to support more advanced analyses to inform commercial decisions for manufacturing, resource assessments, supply chain, and more,” according to the spokesperson.
This dashboard presents this data “for the first time in an interactive, integrated platform, saving users the time and effort by bringing this previously disparately hosted information into a single, web-explorer tool and platform. This dashboard is expected to be updated and augmented with additional data from authoritative programs and projects, including those from the U.S. Geological Survey, State Geological Surveys, and DOE’s CORE-CM and Minerals Sustainability program projects as new measurements and data are generated from field studies and samples. This dashboard includes natural, geologic samples, as well as mine and secondary byproducts,' per the spokesperson.
These tools, publication, and data sets, along with other REE and CM information, can be accessed through NETL’s Energy Data eXchange.
Rose added that “another tool and publication [are] expected to be public in 2023 that offer additional field-based demonstration and validation of these methods in the Central Appalachian Basin region. Collectively, these efforts along with key research partnerships with the United States Geological Survey, state agencies, universities and industry are helping us fulfill the mission of an applied energy lab. We are excited to be part of this program’s mission to accelerate technology innovation and enable stakeholders to establish new environmentally prudent energy and material discoveries that will set us on the path to a domestic supply of critical minerals and a clean energy future.”

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