Carbon-Negative Mining from Gangue Minerals Enabled by Energy-Efficient Electrosynthesis of Acid and Base

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Baltimore, Maryland
Project Term:
01/13/2023 - 01/22/2026

Technology Description:

Johns Hopkins University (JHU) will develop sustainable mining of critical elements from gangue minerals. The concept is based on the electrosynthesis of hydrochloric acid or HCl and base (sodium hydroxide or NaOH) via salt splitting and using renewable electricity as the power source. JHU will use the produced HCl to leach targeted metals from low-grade minerals and NaOH to react with CO2 and generate sodium carbonate (Na2CO3). Recombining the metal chlorides with Na2CO3 will allow for subsequential precipitation of manganese, cobalt, nickel, or copper carbonates and magnesium or iron carbonates, with the former becoming economic ores that can be supplied to refineries and the latter being remineralized for carbon sequestration. The technology will enable the use of unconventional mineral sources for mining of energy-relevant critical metals. It will also avoid high-temperature thermochemical processing, minimize the discharge of hazardous chemical wastes, and substantially reduce the carbon emission of mining industries.

Potential Impact:

The MINER program aims to use the reactive potential of CO2-reactive ore materials to decrease mineral processing energy and increase the yield of energy-relevant minerals via novel negative emission technologies.


MINER metrics meet the U.S. need for net-zero, commercial-ready technologies that provide energy-relevant minerals for economic and national security.


In addition to demonstrating carbon negativity, the proposed technologies will quantify and reduce our impact on environmental and human health by addressing ecotoxicity, acidification of air, smog, water pollution, and more.


MINER metrics specify increasing the yield of energy-relevant minerals by reducing unrecovered energy-relevant minerals in tailings in by 50% compared with state of the art.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Douglas Wicks
Project Contact:
Chao Wang
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


Johns Hopkins University
Argonne National Laboratory

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