Ucore's Game-Changing Approach to Rare Earth Element Separation
Ucore’s innovative column-based solvent extraction method is designed for the separation of both light and heavy rare earth elements. This method stands out from traditional solvent extraction as it efficiently blends aqueous and organic solutions without the need for a powered mixing tank, courtesy of Ucore’s unique contactor column and phase separator. The compact design of RapidSX™ columns and separators takes the place of the bulky, electrically-driven mixer/settler tanks found in conventional methods, leading to a more streamlined and cost-friendly REE processing approach.
While it employs the same chemical reaction as the conventional method, its enhanced application offers numerous advantages. Independent assessments show that the RapidSX™ system produces the required chemical reactions three times faster than its conventional counterpart, resulting in reduced processing times and lower construction and operational expenses. This also results in further benefits such as adaptability to diverse feedstocks and a quicker recovery to stable processing post-interruptions.
RapidSX™ produces the same REE outputs as conventional facilities. In collaboration with Kingston Processing Metallurgy, Inc. (KPM), Ucore is on the brink of fully commercializing RapidSX™. This initiative is being carried out at Ucore’s RapidSX™ Commercialization and Demonstration Facility, featuring the 52-Stage RapidSX™ Commercial Demonstration Plant.
Superior Processing Speed and Efficiency
The RapidSX™ technology platform has been demonstrated to process REEs at least 3X faster than a similar CSX plant with the same product throughput, resulting in a significantly smaller physical footprint. One of the primary purposes of the Commercial Demonstration Plant is to quantify these superior efficiency values over a wide variety of HREE and LREE feedstocks in a near-commercial operating environment.
Reduced CAPEX and OPEX
Faster processing times result in a RapidSX™ facility with smaller size, lower construction cost, and a reduced time to get back to a steady-state processing condition after a disruption. Further, the RapidSX facility can be faster to commission for a variety of feedstocks, and less expensive to operate given lower required levels of staffing, maintenance, and process chemicals when compared to a CSX plant of the same capacity.
SCALABLE AND MODULAR
RapidSX™ technology offers modular and scalable process lines, providing potential JV partners and licensees with the opportunity for in-situ production capacity in the future.
The modular design and interchangeability of all RapidSX™ components to process the unit operational steps of SX chemistry (i.e., Extract, Scrub, Strip, Wash and Neutralization) make it readily reconfigurable for the separation of any combination of HREE and LREE feedstocks utilizing the same equipment.
Ucore and KPM’s scientific and engineering experts are showcasing the technology’s capability to separate rare earths at the Commercial Demonstration Plant, with thousands of hours dedicated to this purpose. These trials aim to validate OEM product standards and facilitate a scale-up towards Ucore’s anticipated 5,000-tonne annual TREO Strategic Metals Complex. This separation facility will produce commercial grade rare earth oxides in Alexandria, Louisiana, with a target production date in early 2025.
RapidSX™ can be applicable to the processing of other metals currently refined with SX, and once its Louisiana SMC is operational the focus will shift to include other critical materials.