U of G Researcher Receives Part of $2 million U.S.A. Department of Energy Funding for Sustainable Mining Research

Posted on Monday, November 7th, 2022

Mineral samples waiting to undergo testing in a muffle furnace

College of Engineering and Physical Sciences (CEPS) professor Rafael Santos has partnered with Johns Hopkins University and Argonne National Laboratory on a U.S. Department of Energy Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). The funding is part of the ARPA-E Mining Innovations for Negative Emissions Resource Recovery (MINER) program, which aims to develop market-ready technologies that will increase domestic supplies of critical elements required for the clean energy transition. The U.S.A. Department of Energy announced $39 million US in funding for 16 projects. 

Their project entitled Carbon-Negative Mining from Gangue Minerals Enabled by Energy-Efficient Electrosynthesis of Acid and Base received $2 million USD from the U.S.A. Department of Energy. Dr. Santos will receive funding to support one postdoctoral fellow and two graduate students. 

Their goal is to develop sustainable mining of critical elements, such as manganese (Mn), cobalt (Co), nickel (Ni), copper (Cu), etc., from gangue minerals, such as olivine. The technology is based on robust acid-base chemistries and renewable electricity as the power source. It will enable the use of unconventional mineral sources for mining of energy-relevant critical metals. It will also avoid high-temperature thermochemical processing, minimize the discharge of hazardous chemical wastes and substantially reduce the carbon emission of mining industries. 

“The proposed process represents a sustainable approach toward increasing domestic supplies of critical materials required for the transition to clean energy,” says Dr. Santos.
Headshot of Dr. Rafael Santos
Dr. Rafael Santos is an Associate Professor in the School of Engineering.

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