ES: I became interested in inorganic chemistry through interaction with my excellent undergrad mentor, Prof. Rudy Luck at Michigan Tech. Rudy set me up with a synthetic project on a dihydrogen complex of rhenium. This experience was quite formative as Rudy also got me interested in Texas A&M for grad school (he was a postdoc at TAMU). Also, the exposure to dihydrogen complexes introduced me to Los Alamos National Laboratory through the work of Greg Kubas.
|Prof. Eric Schelter (credit: UPenn)|
ES: There is currently no comprehensive long term strategy to address the US supply crisis and no strategic reserve of REs. A single supplier (Molycorp) of REs exists in the US, but rare earths are not rare - there are reserves of light and heavy rare earths in many places in the lower 48 [states] and in Alaska. There is a great opportunity here for scientists to help meet an important need by improving methods of obtaining pure RE materials.
ES: Much of the cost, time, and energy in obtaining rare earths is concentrated at the separations stage. We're working on new separations chemistry from several angles. In work sponsored by the DOE we're developing a new extractant strategy for use in liquid-liquid separations. We expect to contribute to a renewed domestic supply chain by targeting certain high value REs and improving the efficiency and reducing the environmental impact of their separations. We are also exploring fundamental redox chemistry of REs for application to separations.
ES: I am a complete /Lord of the Rings /enthusiast (freak) and am anxiously awaiting the film release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (SAO: Me too!)