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Enhancing the separation technology to recover rare earths (REs) from chemical concentrates or industrial waste feedstock


RT&L FOCUS AREA(S): General Warfighting Requirements (GWR) TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Materials The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120-130, which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services, including export of sensitive technical data, or the Export Administration Regulation (EAR), 15 CFR Parts 730-774, which controls dual use items. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals (FNs), their country of origin, the type of visa or work permit possessed, and the statement of work (SOW) tasks intended for accomplishment by the FN(s) in accordance with section 3.5 of the Announcement. Offerors are advised foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws. OBJECTIVE: Develop, demonstrate, and stand up a rare earth separation and refining process. The process should be able to produce rare earth oxides (or similar) from commercially available RE concentrates, ores, or industrial waste feedstock. It should be scalable to meet changes in industrial demand. The price should be commercially viable. DESCRIPTION: DLA R&D is looking for a domestic capability that demonstrates a new novel RE extraction and separation process from chemical concentrates, ores, or industrial waste feedstock. Defense weapon systems use various REs and there is currently no domestic production of these materials and therefore a risk of foreign reliance. Developing an economically viable, environmentally friendly process for enhancing the recovery of REs from the existing industrial waste feedstock, such as red mud, electronic devices, could facilitate the establishment of a viable, competitive domestic supply chain. DLA R&D seeks to prove the recovery demonstration for marketable REs from varied feedstock and facilitate commercialization of that process. R&D tasks include identifying feedstock sources in the existing domestic supply chain and developing process for extracting and processing the REs that demonstrates a significant cost advantage versus standard processing. It must be environmentally compliant with all federal, state, and local laws. Ideally the process and equipment could be used for more then a single element. The material should be at least 99.9% pure. The process should be scalable and modular to allow for rapid scale up if necessary. PHASE I: The below actions would be required to successfully accomplish Phase I: • At a minimum, develop a process flow sheet and design a lab scale of material processed of at least 2kg to confirm its accuracy. • Material produced at the required purity level. • Breakdown of cost structure for industrialization including required capital expenditures and per unit production costs. Phase I – 6 Months $100K Phase II – 24 Months $1.6M PHASE II: The below actions would be required to successfully accomplish Phase II: • Deliver a Lab scale prototype (TRL 6) with a minimal low-rate production for at least one of the rare earths and find a domestic supplier to reduce the rare earth oxide (REO) into metal/alloy. • Detail a plan on how to increase to full commercial production for as many of the materials as is possible with the same hardware. • Outline the economic business case for full scale commercialization. PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Phase III is any proposal that “Derives From”, “Extends” or Completes a transition from a Phase I or II project. Phase III proposals will be accepted after the completion of Phase I and or Phase II projects. There is no specific funding is associated with Phase III, except Phase III is not allowed to use SBIR/STTR coded funding. Any other type funding is allowed. Phase III proposal Submission. Phase III proposals are emailed directly to DLA The PMO team will set up evaluations and coordinate the funding and contracting actions depending on the outcome of the evaluations. A Phase III proposal should follow the same format as Phase II for the content, and format. There are, however, no limitations to the amount of funding requested, or the period of performance. All other guidelines apply. These materials have dual-use commercial or military applications in many complex systems
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