Mining precious rare-earth elements from coal fly ash with a reusable ionic liquid

Rare-earth elements are in many everyday products, such as smart phones, LED lights and batteries. However, only a few locations have large enough deposits worth mining, resulting in global supply chain tensions. So, there’s a push toward recycling them from non-traditional sources, such as waste from burning coal — fly ash. Now, researchers report a simple method for recovering these elements from coal fly ash using an ionic liquid.