Using yttrium as an indicator to estimate total rare earth element concentration: a case study of anthracite-associated clays from northeastern Pennsylvania

Xiaojing Yang, Daniel Kozar, Daniel Gorski, Anthony Marchese, James Pagnotti, Rusty Sutterlin, Mohammad Rezaee, Mark S. Klima, Sarma V. Pisupati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This study demonstrated using yttrium (Y) as an indicator to estimate the total rare earth element and Y contents (REY) in coal-associated samples and to facilitate selection of samples with high REY assays in a fast and inexpensive manner. More than 10 anthracite-associated samples were collected from each of three Pennsylvanian sites (sites B, J and C) based on Thorium gamma ray logging suggesting high REY content. Several samples from each site were analyzed by ICP-MS to determine the rare earth distribution patterns and to establish the site-specific linear equations of Y and REY. The Y contents of the remaining samples were measured by a portable X-ray fluorescence analyzer, and the REY values were estimated based on the site-specific linear equation developed earlier. R-squared values above 0.70 were obtained for all the estimation equations from all three sites on both a whole sample basis and an ash basis. Previously, ash content has been widely used as an indicator of high REY content. This may not be applicable for a specific site. Site B in this study is an example where ash contents could not be statistically correlated with REY, so using Y for estimation is more applicable. The demonstrated sample screening process is suitable for samples from sites that share more similar distribution patterns (either MREY or LREY or HREY) as well as for samples from sites that share multiple distribution patterns (LREY/MREY/HREY) depending on the desirable accuracy. The demonstrated process lowers the analytical cost from $70 to 80 dollars per sample to $10–15 per sample while significantly reducing the processing time and acid consumption for ICP digestion. This is particularly true when a relatively large sample size is involved, for example, 100 samples from one site analyzed by ICP-MS/OES.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalInternational Journal of Coal Science and Technology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology

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