Project EcoRareEarth

File number: IN607F 2019/28

Annuity 2019, aid for the granting of subsidies to encourage the participation of Galicia in the Research and Innovation Framework Program of the European Union (Horizon 2020), co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) within the framework of the Feder operation Galicia 2014-2020 program (DOG no. 173, of September 12):


Acronym of the proposal: ECORAREEARTH

Horizon 2020-EIC-SME Instrument Phase I Call

Eligible budget: €18,226.00

Subsidy amount: €14,580.80 FEDER % of aid: 100%

Within the operational program, this operation falls within:

Axis: 01 Strengthen research, technological development and innovation.

Investment priority: 01.02. Promotion of business investment in R&I, the development of links and synergies between companies, research and development centers and the higher education sector, in particular by encouraging investment in the development of products and services, technology transfer, social innovation, ecological innovation, public service applications, demand stimulation, networking, clusters and open innovation through intelligent specialization, and through support for technological and applied research, pilot lines, early product validation actions, advanced manufacturing capabilities and first production, in particular, in essential enabling technologies and dissemination of multipurpose technologies.

EcoRareEarth is a project aimed at using forest biomass byproducts to obtain rare earths (TR) through the application of phytomining in the biomass production cycle. TRs are a group of 17 elements of great value in technological industries due to their unique properties, being an essential component in the manufacture of electric motors, next-generation turbines, transistors and other electronic devices.

Obtaining them through traditional mining is very expensive, especially from an environmental point of view, due to the large amount of material that must be processed to obtain small quantities of TR. In this way, although in the Galicia-Northern Portugal Euroregion there is one of the few rare earth deposits in Europe, its exploitation by traditional methods is not compatible with environmental standards.

However, in recent years, techniques have been developed to produce forest clones with the ability to absorb specific elements from the soil that become part of the biomass. These elements are concentrated in the byproducts of biomass combustion, making their extraction and valorization possible. The EcoRareEarth project will develop all the elements necessary to apply this solution in the context of biomass plantations and biomass energy-intensive industry. Clones will be selected with the ability to absorb TR and produce biomass efficiently. These clones will be used in TR-rich soils that are abundant in the Euroregion.

Finally, EcoRareEarth will obtain TR-rich amalgam from the by-products of the combustion of biomass for commercial valorization, completing a Circular Economy cycle in the forestry and energy sector.