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EPA Green Chemistry Challenge: 2017 Academic Award goes to professor who developed method for recycling of rare earth elements

The EPA Green Chemistry Challenge winners were announced June 12, at the National Academy of Sciences, in Washington, D.C. Merck, Dow Chemical, Koehler, Amgen, Bachem, UniEnergy Technologies, were honored for developing sustainable technologies in the industry, while the Academic Award went to Professor Eric J. Schelter, from the University of Pennsylvania.

Professor Schelter’s group has developed a new protocol that simplifies and reduces the costs of separating mixtures of rare earth (REs) elements obtained from consumer materials through the development of ligands that form complexes of REs with different solubilities. Rare earths are a group of elements with a wide variety of technological applications. These elements occur as mixtures in ores, which make the mining, refining, and purification of those very costly and waste generating. In that way, the difficult in the separations of REs is the main barrier to their effective recycling.