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Introducing RapidSX™ – Ucore’s transformative advanced column-based solvent extraction technique for separating light and heavy rare earth elements (LREEs and HREEs). Unlike conventional solvent extraction (CSX or SX), RapidSX™ achieves efficient mixing of loaded aqueous and barren organic solutions without needing a powered mixing tank, thanks to Ucore’s proprietary contactor column and paired phase separator. The slender footprint of the motionless RapidSX™ contactor columns and phase separators replace the physically large and electrically powered mixer/settler tanks of the CSX flowsheet, resulting in a more efficient and cost-effective REE processing method.
Through independent evaluations conducted to date, the RapidSX™ platform is at least 3x more efficient than CSX, with a shorter overall processing time and lower construction and operation costs. The same chemistry and unit operational steps as CSX are used, but the enhanced application of the chemistry through physics adds many additional benefits, including greater adaptability for various feedstocks and faster return to steady-state processing conditions after a disruption.
The RapidSX™ process results in REE products that are virtually indistinguishable from those made in facilities using CSX. Ucore and its development partner, Kingston Processing Metallurgy, Inc. (KPM), are currently completing the commercialization of RapidSX™ through a substantial demonstration project quantifying the techno-economic attributes of RapidSX™. This work is occurring at Ucore’s RapidSX™ Commercialization and Demonstration Facility (CDF) utilizing the constructed 52-Stage RapidSX™ Commercial Demonstration Plant (Demo Plant).
The RapidSX™ technology platform processes REEs at least 3X faster than a similar CSX plant with the same product throughput and with a dramatically reduced physical footprint. One of the primary purposes of the Demo Plant is to quantify these superior efficiency values over a wide variety of HREE and LREE feedstocks in a near-commercial operating environment.
A RapidSX™ facility processing REEs likely is 1/3 the size, requires 1/3 the construction cost, is much faster to bring back to a steady-state processing condition after a disruption, faster to commission for a variety of feedstocks, and simply less expensive to operate given lower required levels of staffing, maintenance, and process chemicals when compared to a CSX plant of the same capacity.
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 exact same equipment.
The scientific and engineering teams from Ucore and KPM are demonstrating this technology for the separation of HREE and LREE over thousands of planned run-time hours at the Demo Plant. These demonstrations will support initial OEM product qualifications and the approximately 6X scale-up to Ucore’s planned 5,000 tonne per annum TREO Strategic Metals Complexes to produce individual high-purity rare earth oxides in three planned North American locations – starting with the construction of the Louisiana SMC in 2023.
Ucore’s self-use of the RapidSX™ technology platform will be followed by strategic JV partnerships and licensing opportunities throughout the world and across all critical metal supply chains. Any metal that can be separated with SX can be separated with RapidSX™, and upon the successful commercial deployment of the technology for REEs, Ucore will focus the Demo Plant on other critical metals such as the critical battery metals lithium (Li), cobalt (Co), and nickel (Ni).