Assessments of Geochemistry, Concentration, and Scalability of REEs Recovery from Seaweeds
The University of Alaska Fairbanks will investigate the accumulation potential of rare earth elements in hyper-accumulating native seaweed species surveyed around the Bokan Mountain rare earth element deposit in Southeast Alaska. The project will conduct a comprehensive environmental survey to understand how natural erosion transports rare earth elements from ridge to ocean. The team will then collect native seaweed species and conduct biomass tissue chemical composition and polymer analysis to create maps of coastal sites rich in rare earth elements bound to biological materials, along with cultivation guidelines to harvest optimal mineral concentrations. If successful, the findings will guide the selection of seaweed species and farm designs for large-scale cultivation and inform the maximum scalability of seaweed farming operations designed to harvest rare earth elements without the environmental impacts of traditional mining operations.