A mining engineering doctoral student in the Statler College is investigating separation techniques for the removal of radioactive and hazardous materials from rare earth elements, chemical elements in Earth’s crust that are essential ingredients in modern technologies such as cell phones, rechargeable batteries, GPS equipment and many defense applications.
Deniz Talan, a native of Ankara, Turkey, has been awarded the West Virginia University Outstanding Merit for Continuing Doctoral Students Fellowship, to continue her studies. The fellowship recognizes doctoral students who are succeeding at high levels, including current grades, research, service to the WVU community and professional publications.
Talan has been working alongside her faculty adviser Qingqing Huang, assistant professor of mining engineering, on a project with the United States Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.
“The project focuses on rare earth extraction from coal and coal byproducts both in an environmentally and economically benign manner,” Talan said. “My specific research topic aims to investigate the potential of various separation techniques for the removal of radioactive and hazardous elements from rare earths.”
Talan explained that the U.S. is vulnerable to interruptions in the rare earth elements market due to its lack of domestic supply. High-tech companies like Apple, Tesla and Philips Healthcare, rely on these elements for production, making her research critical to a stable economy.
“The outcome of this project is using different coal and coal-based materials as a feedstock to extract rare earth elements,” Talan said. “Considering the vast amount of coal reserves, and the volumes of byproducts generated after coal mining and processing, the utilization of which will not only overcome the challenges that the rare earth industry is facing but also contribute to the U.S. economy.”
Talan hopes her research will help bridge the knowledge gap in the mining industry regarding the environmental aspects of rare earths extraction from coal and coal-based materials.
Recipients of this fellowship are selected by each College and submitted by the dean, associate dean or a designee.
“I am truly honored for being acknowledged among my peers both with my research and academic achievements,” Talan said. “I would like to thank my adviser who has nominated me for this fellowship. I am grateful for her support and guidance. I also greatly appreciate Office of Graduate Education and Life for recognizing me as a recipient of this distinguished fellowship.”
In the future, Talan has her sights set on becoming a tenure-track professor in the field of extractive metallurgy and hydrometallurgy, as well as working on extraction of critical elements.
“Being recognized by WVU for such a competitive fellowship will definitely help me stand out professionally,” Talan said. “It will be a motivation to tackle my upcoming challenges.”
Vladislav Kecojevic, Robert E. Murray chair and professor of mining engineering, said this fellowship will help Talan further her research in rare earth elements.
“Deniz is an outstanding student working on pilot-scale testing of an integrated circuit for the extraction of rare earth elements,” Kecojevic said. “This fellowship is a recognition of all her accomplishments and exemplary work as she continues to pursue exciting research that will make a significant contribution to the field of rare earth elements for the benefits of our communities, environment, economy and national security.”
Contact: Paige Nesbit
Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
304.293.4135, Paige Nesbit
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