Lanmodulin-Functionalized Magnetic Nanoparticles as a Highly Selective Biosorbent for Recovery of Rare Earth Elements

Quanhui Ye, Xiuyu Jin, Baotong Zhu, Haifeng Gao, Na Wei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recovering rare earth elements (REEs) from waste streams represents a sustainable approach to diversify REE supply while alleviating the environmental burden. However, it remains a critical challenge to selectively separate and concentrate REEs from low-grade waste streams. In this study, we developed a new type of biosorbent by immobilizing Lanmodulin-SpyCatcher (LanM-Spycatcher) on the surface of SpyTag-functionalized magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) for selective separation and recovery of REEs from waste streams. The biosorbent, referred to as MNP-LanM, had an adsorption activity of 6.01 ± 0.11 μmol-terbium/g-sorbent and fast adsorption kinetics. The adsorbed REEs could be desorbed with >90% efficiency. The MNP-LanM selectively adsorbed REEs in the presence of a broad range of non-REEs. The protein storage stability of the MNP-LanM increased by two-fold compared to free LanM-SpyCatcher. The MNP-LanM could be efficiently separated using a magnet and reused with high stability as it retained ∼95% of the initial activity after eight adsorption-desorption cycles. Furthermore, the MNP-LanM selectively adsorbed and concentrated REEs from the leachate of coal fly ash and geothermal brine, resulting in 967-fold increase of REE purity. This study provides a scientific basis for developing innovative biosorptive materials for selective and efficient separation and recovery of REEs from low-grade feedstocks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4276-4285
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Mar 14 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • biosorption
  • lanmodulin
  • nanomaterials
  • rare earth elements
  • waste streams

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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