Integrated Electro-Hydraulic Fracturing and Real-Time Monitoring for Carbon Negative In-Situ Mining
The U.S. mining industry faces the rapid depletion of high-profit deposits, increased mining and processing costs, and expensive management and accumulation of tailings. These factors result in a reduced return on investment from conventional mining methods. The current global conventional mineral supply also cannot support the U.S. transition to 100% renewable energy. The lack of energy-relevant minerals poses a significant supply chain risk, especially with regard to batteries, renewable generation, and transmission. The U.S. may look toward unconventional minerals (i.e., CO2-reactive minerals) and carbon-negative mining methods to meet the demand.
Project Innovation + Advantages:
Idaho National Laboratory (INL) will advance state-of-the-art of integrated reservoir stimulation and sensing technology for enhanced in-situ mining (ISM) and carbon mineralization. This project will use disruptive electro-hydraulic fracturing to increase permeability of intact ore bodies, expanding the accessibility of CO2-charged fluid to carbonation-target minerals and dispersed energy-relevant minerals. It will also use cost-effective distributed fiber-optic sensing for quantifying permeability enhancement, flow characterization, degree of carbonation, and detecting potential CO2 leakage pathways. This technology is unique in its ability to transform permeability-deficient low-grade ore bodies into a cost-effective and carbon-negative ISM with integrated scope for carbon mineralization from a costly and high-carbon footprint underground open-pit mining. The proposed joint ISM and carbonation concept can provide up to 80% recovery of targeted critical minerals and mineralize up to 60% CO2 used in its operation.
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.