Coal — the longtime nemesis of the green movement — stands to play a significant role in America’s transition from gas-powered to electric vehicles by supplying rare-earth elements for high-tech batteries. The big question is whether President Biden and environmentalists will acquiesce.
Coal and its byproducts contain many of the critical minerals necessary to produce electric vehicle batteries. For instance, the top layer of rock and sediment under which coal lies contains rare earth minerals, such as neodymium, europium and terbium.
Those minerals are vital for manufacturing electric vehicle batteries and other household electronics, including iPhones and computer tablets. Even though the minerals are crucial for technology production, the sediment containing the minerals is often disposed of as refuse after coal is excavated.
What’s more, the 140 million tons of ash produced annually from burning coal also is rich in rare earth minerals, specifically cobalt and nickel. The two substances are vital for batteries, including those used in electric vehicles.
That creates an opportunity to repurpose the byproducts of burning and excavating coal, according to energy industry experts.
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