Neumann wants to partner with Utilities on new venture

When Colorado Springs Utilities announced last week that it was halting plans with the Neumann Systems Group’s Neustream emissions-cleaning technology, it was a setback, but this week Neumann has announced a new venture.

And, it’s hoping to partner with CSU again.

Neumann wants to integrate technology that extracts rare earth metals from fly ash, the waste product left over after burning coal. The technology is similar to that used in Neustream.

Neumann has created a subsidiary, called NeuMetals Inc., and filed three patents to cover the range of technology used in the extraction process.

City Council, acting as the CSU board of directors, halted further plans to install the Neustream in the Martin Drake Power Plant, citing a commissioned study about tearing down the downtown facility.

But that hasn’t appeared to sway Neumann, which says the new technology will save millions of dollars.

Neumann says it can recover metals with a potential value between $23 million and $49 million from downtown’s Martin Drake Power Plant.

“We believe this will efficiently remove rare earth and strategic metals in minute amounts – we’re talking parts per million – from coal ash,” said Neumann Vice President Rob Fredell. “And we believe we can make money. Our goal is to take everything that’s considered waste from coal burning and turn it into a usable product.”

The NSG process extracted more than 60 percent of the available metals from fly ash samples at the Martin Drake power plant. Those 14 metals include neodymium, europium and yttrium, all critical elements to high-tech companies.

The process also has the potential to remove mercury and arsenic from the fly ash, Neumann said.

The company hopes to enter into an agreement with CSU to allow it to test the extraction methods at Drake in exchange for an equity share of the future profits. CSU currently has a 3 percent stake in future sales of the Neustream.

“We’re still negotiating the terms with the extraction process,” Fredell said.

Read more about Council’s decision to halt Neustream plans here.