Florida startup recovers rare earths from waste

Photo by Precision Periodic.

Precision Periodic, a company based at the University of Central Florida’s Business Incubator Program, was successful in extracting and separating rare earth elements out of both phosphoric acid and the resulting waste using a reusable nano-filtration system called Thor.

The filter captured 40-60% of the REE and radioactive elements in a five-minute single pass-through

In a press release, the startup said that to run the experiment, the Florida Industrial and Phosphate Research Institute provided then with two different source liquids. The first was wet-process phosphoric acid, which contained radioactive elements and the second was a sulfuric acid leach liquid of the sludge waste. 

The filter captured 40-60% of the rare earth elements and radioactive elements in a five-minute single pass-through from wet-process phosphoric acid and 80% of the rare earth elements in a five-minute single pass-through from sulfuric acid leached waste.

The filter can handle up to 9,000 gallons an hour, which means that it can hold from .5 to 1.2 kilograms of rare earth elements, precious metals, or heavy metals. 

“The successful test projects proved that the Thor nano-filtration technology could be a game-changer for US production of its own rare earth elements supply,” Brian Andrew, CEO of Precision Periodic, said in the media statement.

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Andrew added that the phosphoric acid contains 150 ppm of total rare earths. “Based on our extraction capabilities, we could extract 75 grams of total rare earths out of every 1,000 liters of phosphoric acid from a phosphate mine. This equates to one Florida phosphate mine being able to produce 230 metric tons of total rare earths per year which would supply an estimated 25% of the annual US Military needs.”

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