This article has been reviewed according to Science X's editorial process and policies. Editors have highlighted the following attributes while ensuring the content's credibility:


peer-reviewed publication

trusted source


Designer molecules may help valuable minerals float

Designer molecules may help valuable minerals float
Researchers captured atomic-level insights on the rare-earth mineral monazite to inform future design of flotation collector molecules, illustrated above, that can aid in the recovery of critical materials. Credit: Chad Malone/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Critical Materials Institute researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Arizona State University have studied the mineral monazite, an important source of rare-earth elements, to enhance methods of recovering critical materials for energy, defense and manufacturing applications.

Rare-earth elements occur together naturally in such as monazite but are economically challenging to recover. New approaches to separate the valuable ore from unwanted materials are needed.

The research team combined theory and experiment to gain atom-level insights on monazite, providing a first look at surface features important to the design of flotation collector molecules—materials that work like life jackets to buoy up monazite particles on air bubbles from mixed mineral slurries.

"Our efforts address materials needed for froth flotation techniques used to separate high-grade ore from low-value materials during processing. Fundamental research can help us tailor future collectors to make recovery more efficient and cost-effective," said ORNL's Vyacheslav Bryantsev.

The work is published in The Journal of Physical Chemistry C.

More information: Luke D. Gibson et al, Characterization of Lanthanum Monazite Surface Chemistry and Crystal Morphology through Density Functional Theory and Experimental Approaches, The Journal of Physical Chemistry C (2022). DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpcc.2c06308

Journal information: Journal of Physical Chemistry C

Citation: Designer molecules may help valuable minerals float (2023, January 26) retrieved 27 March 2023 from
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Explore further

Researchers working to recover rare-earth elements and secure critical materials for clean energy technologies


Feedback to editors