Rare Earth Element Trap-Extract-Precipitate (REE-TEP) Process

The Need

Rare earth elements are critical components of many emerging technologies. Because conventional sources of REEs in the United States are limited, identifying alternative sources is important. Many mining and industrial waste streams have elevated concentrations of REEs and can be potential REE sources. Isolating and recoverying the REEs from these sources, however, often requires use of hazardous mineral acids, organic solvents, and energy intensive processes. Sustainable alternative recovery approaches that utilize less hazardous materials are desired.

The Technology

A picture containing screenshot, design

Description automatically generatedA novel and environmentally friendly process to treat acidic waste streams containing elevated REE concentrations to produce a REE concentrate suitable for commercial processing. This approach eliminates the use of hazardouse mineral acids and organic solvents and instead reuses alkaline industrial by-products and naturally-occuring organic ligands. A laboratory-based test of the process recovered over 98% of REEs from acidic coal mine drainage, producing an effluent with much lower total dissolved solids and a circumneutral pH. Over 80% of the retained REEs were subsequently extracted and precipitated to produce a concentrate containing greater than 7.5% REEs by weight.

Commercial Applications

Application of the process to acidic waste streams produced by mining or other industry sources to recover REEs.


REE-TEP process provides an innovative, sustainable, and environmentally friendly alternative to existing REE recovery approaches that are expensive and environmentally unfavorable.


Methods for the Recovery of Rare Earth Elements. US2022/0289585, PCT/US2020/043532

Loading icon