About the Research
The overarching theme of our research is to understand and improve the environmental performance of emerging technologies in resource recovery, mainly of critical elements (e.g. rare earths, platinum group metals, etc.), and the related industry by implementing innovation to these technologies through the means of surface and interfacial phenomena.
Our research is focused on developing new technologies, such as selective solid-phase extraction, using innovative chemistry (to produce e.g. novel adsorbents) and engineering for recovery of critical elements from secondary sources (e.g. above ground mining from industrial wastes: mining tails, coal ash leachates, etc.), and understanding the fundamental science for the environmental and geochemical processes involved in energy-mineral resource recovery and production domain.
Currently we develop novel selective adsorbents for the separation and recovery of germanium and gallium from coal ash and other sources. Both germanium and gallium are integral elements of modern technologies and critical due to supply risk, inefficient production, and increased demand. They are used in high technology applications such as infrared systems, fiber optics, polymer catalysis, electronics, LEDs, defense systems, and solar cells. The work on solid-phase extraction of these elements involves synthesis of novel adsorbents for highly selective separation. Along with experimental characterization, lab and field applications of these adsorbents, we also focus on chemical modeling to better understand and simulate the behavior of novel adsorbents. It is imperative to develop sustainable recovery of critical elements by revitalizing existing extraction, separation, and recovery practices, introducing innovative new technologies and modernize them with contemporary approaches in process optimization.
The outcomes of our studies can serve the developing of new processing techniques for critical element extraction, contributing to contemporary circular economy approaches, which will also help meet the demand of these elements in the future. The developed materials and techniques could also provide new insights for extracting other critical materials including rare earth elements.
For more information
- Karamalidis A.K. and Eggert R. (Ed.) (2021) "Rare Earth Elements: Sustainable Processing, Purification, and Recovery", pp. 320, John Wiley & Sons, New York, New York. (coming up soon - will be published for the AGU-Wiley).
- Callura J., Shi Q., Dzombak D.A., Karamalidis A.K., "Selective recovery of rare earth elements with ligand-functionalized polymers in fixed-bed adsorption columns", Separation and Purification Technology, 265, (2021) DOI: 10.1016/j.seppur.2021.118472
- Callura J., Perkins K., Baltrus J.P., Washburn N., Noack C.W., Dzombak D.A., Karamalidis A.K. "Adsorption Kinetics, Thermodynamics, and Isotherm Studies for Functionalized Lanthanide-Chelating Resins", Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, 557, 465-477 (2019) DOI: 10.1016/j.jcis.2019.08.097