skip to main content


Title: Material Design Strategies for Recovery of Critical Resources from Water
Abstract Population growth, urbanization, and decarbonization efforts are collectively straining the supply of limited resources that are necessary to produce batteries, electronics, chemicals, fertilizers, and other important products. Securing the supply chains of these critical resources via the development of separation technologies for their recovery represents a major global challenge to ensure stability and security. Surface water, groundwater, and wastewater are emerging as potential new sources to bolster these supply chains. Recently, a variety of material‐based technologies have been developed and employed for separations and resource recovery in water. Judicious selection and design of these materials to tune their properties for targeting specific solutes is central to realizing the potential of water as a source for critical resources. Here, the materials that are developed for membranes, sorbents, catalysts, electrodes, and interfacial solar steam generators that demonstrate promise for applications in critical resource recovery are reviewed. In addition, a critical perspective is offered on the grand challenges and key research directions that need to be addressed to improve their practical viability.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
2022023
NSF-PAR ID:
10442504
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Advanced Materials
ISSN:
0935-9648
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. On August 9-10, 2023, the Thomas J. O’Keefe Institute for Sustainable Supply of Strategic Minerals at Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) hosted the third annual workshop on ‘Resilient Supply of Critical Minerals’. The workshop was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and was attended by 218 participants. 128 participants attended in-person in the Havener Center on the Missouri S&T campus in Rolla, Missouri, USA. Another 90 participants attended online via Zoom. Fourteen participants (including nine students) received travel support through the NSF grant to attend the conference in Rolla. Additionally, the online participation fee was waived for another six students and early career researchers to attend the workshop virtually. Out of the 218 participants, 190 stated their sectors of employment during registration showing that 87 participants were from academia (32 students), 62 from the private sector and 41 from government agencies. Four topical sessions were covered: A. The Critical Mineral Potential of the USA: Evaluation of existing, and exploration for new resources. B. Mineral Processing and Recycling: Maximizing critical mineral recovery from existing production streams. C. Critical Mineral Policies: Toward effective and responsible governance. D. Resource Sustainability: Ethical and environmentally sustainable supply of critical minerals. Each topical session was composed of two keynote lectures and complemented by oral and poster presentations by the workshop participants. Additionally, a panel discussion with panelists from academia, the private sector and government agencies was held that discussed ‘How to grow the American critical minerals workforce’. The 2023 workshop was followed by a post-workshop field trip to the lead-zinc mining operations of the Doe Run Company in southeast Missouri that was attended by 18 workshop participants from academia (n=10; including 4 students), the private sector (n=4), and government institutions (n=4). Discussions during the workshop led to the following suggestions to increase the domestic supply of critical minerals: (i) Research to better understand the geologic critical mineral potential of the USA, including primary reserves/resources, historic mine wastes, and mineral exploration potential. (ii) Development of novel extraction techniques targeted at the recovery of critical minerals as co-products from existing production streams, mine waste materials, and recyclables. (iii) Faster and more transparent permitting processes for mining and mineral processing operations. (iv) A more environmentally sustainable and ethical approach to mining and mineral processing. (v) Development of a highly skilled critical minerals workforce. This workshop report provides a detailed summary of the workshop discussions and describes a way forward for this workshop series for 2024 and beyond. 
    more » « less
  2. null (Ed.)
    Local business leaders, policy makers, elected officials, city planners, emergency managers, and private citizens are responsible for, and deeply affected by, the performance of critical supply chains and related infrastructures. At the center of critical supply chains is the food-energy-water nexus (FEW); a nexus that is key to a community’s wellbeing, resilience, and sustainability. In the 21st century, managing a local FEW nexus requires accurate data describing the function and structure of a community’s supply chains. However, data is not enough; we need data-informed conversation and technical and social capacity building among local stakeholders to utilize the data effectively. There are some resources available at the mesoscale and for food, energy, or water, but many communities lack the data and tools needed to understand connections and bridge the gaps between these scales and systems. As a result, we currently lack the capacity to manage these systems in small and medium sized communities where the vast majority of people, decisions, and problems reside. This study develops and validates a participatory citizen science process for FEW nexus capacity building and data-driven problem solving in small communities at the grassroots level. The FEWSION for Community Resilience (F4R) process applies a Public Participation in Scientific Research (PPSR) framework to map supply chain data for a community’s FEW nexus, to identify the social network that manages the nexus, and then to generate a data-informed conversation among stakeholders. F4R was piloted and co-developed with participants over a 2-year study, using a design-based research process to make evidence-based adjustments as needed. Results show that the F4R model was successful at improving volunteers’ awareness about nexus and supply chain issues, at creating a network of connections and communication with stakeholders across state, regional, and local organizations, and in facilitating data-informed discussion about improvements to the system. In this paper we describe the design and implementation of F4R and discuss four recommendations for the successful application of the F4R model in other communities: 1) embed opportunities for co-created PPSR, 2) build social capital, 3) integrate active learning strategies with user-friendly digital tools, and 4) adopt existing materials and structure. 
    more » « less
  3. To keep global surface warming below 1.5°C by 2100, the portfolio of cost-effective CDR technologies must expand. To evaluate the potential of macroalgae CDR, we developed a kelp aquaculture bio-techno-economic model in which large quantities of kelp would be farmed at an offshore site, transported to a deep water “sink site”, and then deposited below the sequestration horizon (1,000 m). We estimated the costs and associated emissions of nursery production, permitting, farm construction, ocean cultivation, biomass transport, and Monitoring, Reporting, and Verification (MRV) for a 1,000 acre (405 ha) “baseline” project located in the Gulf of Maine, USA. The baseline kelp CDR model applies current systems of kelp cultivation to deep water (100 m) exposed sites using best available modeling methods. We calculated the levelized unit costs of CO 2 eq sequestration (LCOC; $ tCO 2 eq -1 ). Under baseline assumptions, LCOC was $17,048 tCO 2 eq -1 . Despite annually sequestering 628 tCO 2 eq within kelp biomass at the sink site, the project was only able to net 244 C credits (tCO 2 eq) each year, a true sequestration “additionality” rate (AR) of 39% (i.e., the ratio of net C credits produced to gross C sequestered within kelp biomass). As a result of optimizing 18 key parameters for which we identified a range within the literature, LCOC fell to $1,257 tCO 2 eq -1 and AR increased to 91%, demonstrating that substantial cost reductions could be achieved through process improvement and decarbonization of production supply chains. Kelp CDR may be limited by high production costs and energy intensive operations, as well as MRV uncertainty. To resolve these challenges, R&D must (1) de-risk farm designs that maximize lease space, (2) automate the seeding and harvest processes, (3) leverage selective breeding to increase yields, (4) assess the cost-benefit of gametophyte nursery culture as both a platform for selective breeding and driver of operating cost reductions, (5) decarbonize equipment supply chains, energy usage, and ocean cultivation by sourcing electricity from renewables and employing low GHG impact materials with long lifespans, and (6) develop low-cost and accurate MRV techniques for ocean-based CDR. 
    more » « less
  4. Abstract Current U.S. policies aim to establish domestic supply chains of critical minerals for the energy transition. The Iron Creek deposit in the Idaho cobalt belt (ICB) is one of the most promising cobalt (Co) targets. Our case study illustrates the importance of mineralogy in strategic evaluations of critical mineral potential. Most of the Co at Iron Creek occurs as Fe substitution in pyrite, with lattice-bound and inclusion-hosted Ag, As, Bi, Ni, Pb, Se, Te ± trace Au and Sb. Cobalt also occurs in minor cattierite-vaesite. The Co minerals are intergrown with Co-poor chalcopyrite hosting Cu ± minor In and Zn. Worldwide, most Co is recovered from deposits mineralogically distinct from the ICB, and the United States currently lacks infrastructure to recover this Co and its associated metals. ICB ore minerals could be processed by autoclave, roaster, smelter, bioleach, or heap leach. Recovery of the Ag, As, Au, Bi, In, Pb, Se, Te, and Zn would be costly by autoclave, and construction of a custom smelter for ICB ores is likely uneconomic, so these elements would become waste irrespective of criticality. The Co-Fe and Co-As sulfide minerals are most suitable for Co and Ni recovery by a hydrometallurgical autoclave process, with potential pretreatment of cobaltiferous pyrite/arsenopyrite in an inert-atmosphere roaster, in new domestic or anticipated international facilities. The ICB is the second largest known Co resource in the United States. Consideration of ore mineralogy in the ICB is essential in strategies for domestic production. 
    more » « less
  5. Monitoring and managing groundwater resources is critical for sustaining livelihoods and supporting various human activities, including irrigation and drinking water supply. The most common method of monitoring groundwater is well water level measurements. These records can be difficult to collect and maintain, especially in countries with limited infrastructure and resources. However, long-term data collection is required to characterize and evaluate trends. To address these challenges, we propose a framework that uses data from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) mission and downscaling models to generate higher-resolution (1 km) groundwater predictions. The framework is designed to be flexible, allowing users to implement any machine learning model of interest. We selected four models: deep learning model, gradient tree boosting, multi-layer perceptron, and k-nearest neighbors regressor. To evaluate the effectiveness of the framework, we offer a case study of Sunflower County, Mississippi, using well data to validate the predictions. Overall, this paper provides a valuable contribution to the field of groundwater resource management by demonstrating a framework using remote sensing data and machine learning techniques to improve monitoring and management of this critical resource, especially to those who seek a faster way to begin to use these datasets and applications. 
    more » « less