Engineered Microorganisms for Enhanced Rare Earth Element Bio-Mining and Separations
Project Innovation + Advantages:
Cornell University will use advanced genomics, synthetic biology and microfluidic laboratory evolution devices to engineer two sets of exotic microbes to (1) extract REE from ores, spent cracking catalysts, coal ash and electronic waste, and (2) purify REE into single element batches. These two sets of engineered organisms will enable high-efficiency, high-selectivity extraction of REE from ore and end-of-life feedstocks, and purification of mixed REE into isolated element solutions, all under benign conditions without the need of harsh solvents and high temperatures. These new technologies could provide a new source of these critical elements for future U.S. energy technologies.