Researchers from Georgia Tech’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering have discovered a way to extract rare-earth elements—essential ingredients for nearly all modern electronics—from the ash left behind at coal-burning power plants using a non-toxic ionic liquid.
Two School of Civil and Environmental Engineering Ph.D. students have secured National Science Foundation fellowships, some of the most competitive and prestigious funding for the nation’s graduate students. Georgene Geary and Laura Mast join a long list of the brightest and most promising of the School’s students to win the funding. This year, NSF chose to support fewer than one in eight applicants.
Doctoral student Laura Mast has won a scholarship from the Environmental Research & Education Foundation for her work recovering rare metals from coal ash. Mast, in her second year of studies, is working to synthesize new agents that will extract what are known as rare earth elements from the complex ash leftover from coal combustion. It’s important work for modern “green” technologies, Mast said, since the elements are used in everything from electric car batteries and wind turbines to LEDs and smartphones.