Available Technology

Acid-Free Dissolution and Separation of Rare-earth Metals

ISU and Ames Laboratory researchers have developed a method to effectively recycle rare earth elements through simple REDOX reactions allowing for aqueous processing. This replaces the need for dangerous and environmentally unfriendly acids.
(DIV) Rare earth elements (REE) have seen a sharp increase in use in a number of technical materials such as high density and high temperature tolerant permanent magnets, lamp phosphors, catalysts, rechargeable batteries and many other technologies related to a transition to a greener economy. With China controlling more than 90% of REE output and increasingly stringent export quotas, the world at large faces a risk of supply disruption. Recycling of spent materials is therefore crucially important. ISU researchers have developed a novel approach to recycling REEs (particularly neodymium and dysprosium) by dissolving REE containing metal scrap in a reducing aqueous solution. After simple processing of the solubilized material, pure REE-oxides can be recovered. Recovery yield of the REE-oxides are typically greater than 95%. The use of aqueous reduction to dissolve the REE replaces the need for environmentally unfriendly acid use.
(DIV) -• Cost effective and time efficient -• Environmentally friendly -• Expected to scale efficiently -• Applicable to small or large scale operation -(TD) -(TD) (DIV)
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