Tests show RapidSX lives up to its name
Modern rare earth separation tech 10 times faster than old SX Metal Tech News – July 7, 2021
Last updated 7/20/2021 at 3:32pm
As its name implies, Innovation Metals Corp.'s RapidSX rare earths separation technology is at least one order of magnitude faster at extracting REEs than the solvent extraction methods that it is modernizing, according to results from extraction-rate testing.
"The results of the initial extraction-rate testing for the current RapidSX columns are highly encouraging," said Innovation Metals Chairman and CEO Gareth Hatch.
RapidSX is an enormous upgrade to the conventional solvent extraction technology that has been the standard for separating rare earths for more than 40 years. While effective, traditional solvent extraction is a long process of running the notoriously interlocked suite of rare earths through vats of various solvents that progressively separate them into groups and then individual elements – a long process.
Utilizing an innovative column-based platform developed by Gareth Hatch and his team at IMC, RapidSX is much faster and more environmentally sound than the traditional SX separation techniques used in China.
IMC says the rate of extraction is an important contributor to the final design of the individual columns that will be used in RapidSX-based solvent extraction circuits, influencing their overall size when deploying the technology for particular applications.
The initial test results using a standard extractant for REEs indicate that the rate of mass transfer during operation of the RapidSX columns is at least ten times faster than the mixer-settler units used for traditional SX separation.
In addition to the initial extraction-rate testing, IMC has been working to finalize the individual physical RapidSX column assembly design so that it will be suitable for commercial deployment. Computational fluid dynamics software has been used to model fluid flows to subsequently fine-tune the design of certain components that will be utilized in the physical column assemblies.
Final column designs for a RapidSX demonstration plant are in the process of completion and will be tested at IMC's RapidSX commercialization development facility in Kingston, Ontario in a demo-scale module to empirically confirm effectiveness ahead of the construction of the demo plant.
This is good news for Ucore Rare Metal Inc., which acquired IMC last year and plans to commercialize the RapidSX technology through use in its own critical minerals separation facility and licensing the technology to other clients seeking an efficient means of separating rare earths.
"The IMC team continues to make great strides in the RapidSX technology commercial deployment effort," said Ucore Rare Metals Chairman and CEO Pat Ryan. "This latest round of extraction-rate testing foreshadows the expected results as we embark on an independent evaluation of the RapidSX technology at the Kingston facility which will take place over the summer months of 2021."
Once fully developed, Ucore plans to incorporate the RapidSX technology into its Alaska Strategic Metals Complex, a rare earths and critical metals separation facility its plans to build in Southeast Alaska by 2023.