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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • Materials Science Profiles of Progress: REE Extraction and Separation From Phosphoric Acid

    The tech war between China and the United States over who will dominate the 21st Century Technology Age is heating up.

    Earlier this week, China’s rare earth producers, who control the vast majority of global REE output, put out a statement declaring they are ready to “use their dominance of the industry as a weapon in the country’s year-long trade war with their customers in the United States.” 

    Against the backdrop of these news, the recent announcement by a Florida startup regarding their successful extraction and separation of rare earth elements out of phosphoric acid becomes all the more meaningful and deserve a feature in our Materials Science Profiles of Progress series.

    As part of this series, we highlight public-private partnerships that are fueling the materials science revolution which is transforming the ways in which we use and obtain metals and minerals and their work to develop practical solutions to critical minerals issues. 

    Using a reusable nano-filtration system called Thor, Precision Periodic, a company based at the University of Central Florida’s Business Incubator Program, successfully extracted and separated REEs out of both phosphoric acid and the resulting waste.

    Earlier in July, as part of a flurry of activity on the part of the U.S. government to spur domestic critical mineral — and especially REE — development, the Trump Administration in July took its own actions to respond to Chinese REE saber rattling and invoked the 69-year old Defense Production Act to spur domestic REE development.

    We can expect to see more of these public-private partnerships take off as the 21st Century Tech Wars evolve.  The stakes are high, and resource supply dynamics are subject to enormous volatility, as the latest developments in the Cobalt realm show.

    Hopefully our policy makers and other stakeholders will continue to press ahead with meaningful resource policy reforms. 

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  • Materials Science Profiles of Progress: DoE’s New Research Center on Lithium Battery Recycling to Leverage Resources of Private Sector, Universities and National Laboratories

    Speaking at the Bipartisan Policy Center’s American Energy Innovation Council last week, Energy Secretary Rick Perry announced the launch of a new research center on lithium battery recycling.

    The Battery Recycling R&D Center will focus on reclaiming and recycling “critical materials (e.g. cobalt and lithium) from lithium based battery technology used in consumer electronics, defense, energy storage, and transportation applications,” and will be led by Argonne National Laboratory along with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

    Said Sec. Perry:

    “America’s dependence on foreign sources of critical materials undermines our energy security and national security. (…) DOE will leverage the power of competition and the resources of the private sector, universities, and the National Laboratories to develop innovative recycling technologies, which will bolster economic growth, strengthen our energy security, and improve the environment.

    A commendable effort, the initiative is a direct response to Presidential Executive Order 13817, which, issued in December of 2017, calls for “developing critical minerals recycling and reprocessing technologies” embedded into a broader strategy to “ensure secure and reliable supplies of critical minerals.” 

    While we applaud the launch of the new research hub, DoE’s reference of the “broader strategy to ‘ensure secure and reliable supplies of critical minerals’” in its press release is important. As followers of ARPN will know, recycling will not obviate the need for traditional mining and is as such not a panacea for mineral resource supply woes – and we are still waiting for the release of the — by now long-overdue — report by the Department of Commerce subsequent to 13817 outlining said “broader strategy” and recommending specific policy steps to implement it. 

    In the meantime, however, with innovations in the field and concerted efforts to not only improve extraction technologies, but to also develop products and materials in ways that lend themselves to easier reclamation of metals, recycling does represent a viable opportunity to alleviate pressures, and we look forward to following the efforts of the Center.

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  • “Consumption” Missing Element in Discussion over Mineral Resource Development

    You need “stuff” to make “stuff.”  It’s a simple concept, but one that is all too often forgotten. As ARPN’s Dan McGroarty wrote in a 2015 Forbes op-ed coauthored with then-CEO of mining advisory firm Behre Dolbear Karr McCurdy: “[A]s a precursor to sound policy, the nation needs a change in mind-set: It’s time to [...]
  • Video: CMI Founding Director Reflects on Five Years of Critical Materials Research

    Video clips are a great way to ease back into the work week after a holiday.  And thankfully, the Critical Materials Institute, a Department of Energy research hub under the auspices of Ames Laboratory, has got you covered. As we recently shared, CMI Founding Director Dr. Alex King has stepped down from the post he [...]
  • Passing the Torch – Change in Leadership at Critical Materials Institute (CMI)

    There’s a lot going on in the realm of critical minerals these days – and that does not only apply to policy, but also personnel changes. After five years of building and leading the Critical Materials Institute (CMI), a Department of Energy research hub under the auspices of Ames Laboratory, its Director Dr. Alex King [...]
  • Materials Science Profiles of Progress: CMI Announces New Partnership to Recover REEs from E-Waste

    A new year, a new installment of our Materials Science Profiles of Progress series: The Critical Materials Institute (CMI), a U.S. Department of Energy Innovation Hub under the auspices of Ames Laboratory has announced a new collaboration entered into by one of its industry associates to recover Rare Earth Elements (REEs) from electronic waste.  Momentum [...]
  • 2017 – a Year of Mixed Signals: No Grand Strategy – But Some Signs We May Be Digging Out of Our Resource Dependency

    Amidst the chaos of Christmas shopping, holiday parties and travel arrangements, the end of the year is customarily the time to take stock of the last twelve months and assess where to go from here. Here is our recap of 2017: On the heels of a year that very much presented itself as a mixed [...]
  • “Materials Science Profiles of Progress” – REE Extraction From Coal

    In the fairy tale realm, Rumpelstilskin was able to turn straw into gold. Meanwhile, in the real world, as part of our feature series “Materials Science Profiles of Progress,” we’re taking a closer look at a recently-announced research partnership that may not be able to turn straw into gold, but promises to extract precious Rare [...]
  • Materials Science Profiles of Progress – Researchers Turn to Bioengineered Bacteria to Recover REEs

    Followers of ARPN are well aware that we have been calling out policy makers and other stakeholders for their inaction when it comes to working towards the development of a coherent, forward-looking and comprehensive mineral resource strategy – and we frequently point to missed opportunities to work towards this goal. While we stand by our [...]
  • Boron – One Of The Most Versatile Materials You’ve Never Heard About?

    Visual Capitalist has put together another great infographic – this time one that shows that Boron is far more ubiquitous than one would think.  You may have come across them in your laundry room or your kids’ slime-making experiments in the form of Borax, but may not have heard much about them otherwise. However, with [...]

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