Development of a Carbon-Negative Process for Comminution Energy Reduction and Energy-Relevant Mineral Extraction through Carbon Mineralization and Biological Carbon Fixation

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Lexington, Kentucky
Project Term:
03/09/2023 - 03/08/2026

Technology Description:

The University of Kentucky’s proposed technology will use CO₂ emitted at or near operating mines and processing operations to reduce the energy consumed during grinding by more than 50% while improving the recovery of critical energy relevant minerals by 20% or greater. In this approach, CO2 will be mixed with ore containing the valuable minerals, especially copper (Cu) and rare earth elements, to improve grinding and separation efficiency. Biological fixation of CO2 will also be studied and employed in producing acid to recover Cu from low grade feedstocks. If bench-scale tests achieve performance metrics, on-site testing will be performed at MP Materials’ Mountain Pass rare earth concentrator and Rio Tinto’s Kennecott copper processing facility. If successful, the project will provide a novel carbon-negative process using waste CO2 to increase the amount of recoverable energy-relevant minerals.

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:
Dr. Rick Honaker
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


Rio Tinto Services Inc.
MP Materials
Eriez Manufacturing Company
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Purdue University
University of Utah
West Virginia University Research Corporation

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