The Elements of Innovation Discovered

Purdue expands patent rights for ReElement

Metal Tech News - April 24, 2024

Will now extend capability for all feedstocks including rare earth ores.

Purdue University has expanded ReElement Technologies Corp.'s exclusive use of the patents for ligand assisted displacement (LAD) chromatography and knowhow for all feedstocks to now include rare earth ores.

When ReElement first began to employ the unique technology developed at Purdue, its license covered critical minerals from recycled permanent magnets and lithium-ion batteries, and was capable of processing ore and coal waste streams for a low-cost, sustainable, and circular source of rare earths and battery materials.

First producing 99.5% pure neodymium oxide in June 2021 from end-of-life magnets, its portfolio of viably recycled rare earths quickly grew to include all magnet metals, including praseodymium and dysprosium, with similar purity of 99.5% oxide.

On the battery end, the patented multi-modal chromatography could target the valuable metals and minerals found in lithium-ion batteries, recovering purities even higher at 99.96% lithium carbonate.

"I am thankful for the hard work of our team as well as our partners at Purdue University," said ReElement Technologies CEO Mark Jensen. "Based on our rapid execution and success to date, we have expanded the worldwide exclusive rights to include all feedstocks for our separation and purification patents for critical and rare earth elements. This expansion of rare earth elements from primary feedstocks will now complement and work alongside our existing worldwide exclusive rights for recycled rare earth feedstocks and all critical battery mineral feedstocks."

LAD chromatography

According to ReElement, LAD chromatography is the most cost effective and environmentally safest method utilized to date to separate, purify, and refine rare earth and critical minerals.

Designed for rare earth element extraction and purification, LAD chromatography is a much cleaner and greener purification process compared to conventional solvent-based extraction methods.

Alongside this improved environmental footprint, it yields higher productivity, flexibility, and efficiency, allowing for smaller and scalable processing volume without harsh or toxic chemicals.

Essentially, this unique technology enables several key factors that set it apart from its competitors: modular and scalable production capacity (growing processing volumes efficiently as feedstock production expands); localization of processing (removing the need to transport raw ore across the world); significantly less chemical and energy use; and versatility of technology for multiple feedstocks (raw ore, recycled material, etc.).

With the capability to refine pre-processed material into the high-grade elements needed for clean energy production, ReElement has taken another step toward covering the entirety of resource refinement from all spectrums of the supply chain.

Purdue University

American Resources Corp. subsidiary ReElement Technologies Corp. signing its expanded agreement with Purdue University management and technology developers.

"As we embark on the next few years, we look forward to working with partners that we can collaborate with to efficiently synthesize upstream and downstream parts of the supply chain with our efficient and essential refining solutions to enable a healthy, secure and sustainable supply chain for critical and rare earth minerals in the United States and across the globe," said Jensen. "The demand for critical and rare earth elements is projected to grow due to the energy transition towards cleaner, electrified products and technical performance in both commercial and national security related industries. We couldn't be here without the hard work and efforts of Dr. Linda Wang and the support she has been provided by the Purdue University team. We are extremely grateful and honored to work alongside her to innovate this critical industry."

Next steps

With expanded patent capability in hand, ReElement is in conversations with providers of rare earth ores from four different continents with the goal of evaluating partnerships or acquiring rare earth concentrates to be refined domestically.

These will include the 15 elements in the lanthanide series plus scandium and yttrium, as they are essential ingredients for high-end commercial as well as national defense applications in magnets, metal alloys, catalysts, ceramics, and phosphors, which are also important for clean energy applications.

"My students and I are thrilled that ReElement Technologies is bringing this method to separate and purify rare earth and battery elements to the market," said Nien-Hwa "Linda" Wang, the Norman and Jane Li professor at Purdue University's Davidson school of chemical engineering. "Its impact will be felt not only by industry but by people who care about the environment. There have been a lot of people who have worked with me, from the College of Engineering to the Purdue Innovates Office of Technology Commercialization, to funders at the state and federal level. Developing this technology has taken many years, but it is ready for the next giant leap of commercialization."


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