Skip to Main Content

Apply Now to the University of Wyoming apply now

An Environmentally Friendly Method for Extracting Rare Earth Elements from Coal and Coal Utilization Byproducts

UW ID: 18-050

Description of Technology

          Lanthanides, or rare earth elements (REEs), have been increasingly used in renewable energy and energy-efficient technologies because of their unique electronic, magnetic, optical, and catalytic properties. Mining and then extracting is the typical way to obtain these REEs, but because they are present in coal and coal combustion byproducts such as fly ash, reports have confirmed the potential for extraction and separation of REEs from the coal and coal byproducts.

          Researchers at the University of Wyoming have invented a way to obtain these REEs from fly ash by using a process called “leaching.” Leaching is when a substance is extracted from a solid material that has come into contact with a liquid. The Researchers are using a number of acids including inorganic, organic, and acid mixtures coupled with supercritical CO2 as the liquid. In tests, up to 88% of REEs were able to be removed from the ashes. This new method makes fly ash, which was once considered a pollutant, into a profitable material.



          This new leaching technology can be used to extract REEs from coal byproducts. It turns what once was a pollutant into a profitable material.


Features & Benefits

  • 88% of REEs were removed from the ash

  • Turns a pollutant into a profitable material

Downloadable PDF: 18-050


Maohong Fan

Zaixing Huang

Patent Status:  

Patent Pending

Contact Us: 

University of Wyoming Technology Transfer and Research Products Center 

Dept. 3672

1000 E. University Ave. 

Laramie, WY 


Phone: 307-766-2520

Fax: 307-766-2530


Contact Us

Wyoming Technology Transfer and Research Products Center

Dept. 3672

1000 E. University Ave.

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: (307) 766-2520

Fax: (307) 766-2530


Find us on Facebook (Link opens a new window) Find us on YouTube (Link opens a new window)

1000 E. University Ave. Laramie, WY 82071
UW Operators (307) 766-1121 | Contact Us | Download Adobe Reader

Accreditation | Virtual Tour | Emergency Preparedness | Employment at UW | Privacy Policy | Harassment & Discrimination | Accessibility Accessibility information icon