From the Pages of American Coal Magazine: “Future of Rare Earth Elements May Lie with Coal”
By NETL STAFF (2017) – Few people think of coal when they think of high-tech devices. However, that may soon change as researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) work to recover materials called rare earth elements (REEs) from coal and coal-based materials. REEs are essential to the manufacturing of many of the devices that people use every day. For instance, their unusual properties help make the best, strongest and lightest magnets in the world that are used in products from earbuds to electric motors that power car windows and mirrors. They also enhance light emissions, making them integral in fluorescent lighting, catalysts, computer screens and smartphones. In addition, rare earths are important in making nearly every technology used in defense systems that protect the country.