Producing Environmentally Benign Materials from Mine Tailings using Hydrocarbon Polymerization

Case ID:

This invention is a way of making mine tailings more environmentally-friendly and efficient. The method stabilizes the mine tailings by creating a solid product of easily removable heavy metals that, in the event of failure, can devastate the surrounding environment if still present. This technology can be used in the nano-composite fabrication of hydrophobic, non-leaching materials that have a wide range of potential applications.


When it comes to mitigating the devastating effects of tailing dam failures, it is not just about preventing a failure in the first place but alleviating the possible damages in the event one does occur. By making the contained mining waste itself less hazardous, there is an additional layer of environmental protection. These solidified tailings produce no volatile organic compounds (VOC) and can then be repurposed into a material that is not only environmentally benign but useful. The result is a nano-composite fabrication that is water-and stress-resistant.



  • Covering landfills, preventing contact with rain, can potentially be built over
  • As a base in landfills to prevent leakage into the ground
  • Barriers in water control structures
  • Traffic surface, storage flooring, runways
  • Berm build outs, earthen damns, mud control
  • Support material (essentially anywhere brick or concrete would be used)
  • Can be used to contain hazardous materials (radioactive waste, asbestos, etc.)


  • Both stabilizes and creates a useful product
  • Non-leaching
  • Complies with drinking water system component standards (NSF/ANSI 61)
  • Well equipped to handle high humidity and heat
Patent Information:
Contact For More Information:
Tariq Ahmed
Sr Licensing Manager, College of Engineering
The University of Arizona
Lead Inventor(s):
Jaeheon Lee