Separation of rare earths and other valuable metals from deep-eutectic solvents: a new alternative for the recycling of used NdFeB magnets
Journal article, 2017
Deep-eutectic solvents (DESs) are used as a promising alternative to aqueous solutions for the recovery of valuable metals from NdFeB magnets. A deep-eutectic solvent based on choline chloride and lactic acid (molar ratio 1 : 2) was used for the leaching of rare earths and other metals from NdFeB magnets. A process for the separation of Fe, B and Co from Nd and Dy in the deep-eutectic solvent was developed by using the ionic liquid tricaprylmethylammonium thiocyanate (Aliquat 336 SCN, [A336][SCN]) diluted in toluene (0.9 M). The extraction parameters were optimized and stripping of B was efficiently carried out by HCl, while EDTA was employed for the recovery of Fe and Co. The separation of Nd and Dy was assessed by using two different types of extractants, a mixture of trialkylphosphine oxides (Cyanex 923) and bis(2-ethylhexyl) phosphoric acid (D2EHPA). Based on the distribution ratios, separation factors and the ease of subsequent stripping, Cyanex 923 was chosen as the most effective extractant. The purified Dy present in the less polar phase was easily recovered by stripping with water, while the Nd present in the deep-eutectic solvent was recovered by precipitation stripping with a stoichiometric amount of oxalic acid. Nd2O3 and Dy2O3 were recovered with a purity of 99.87% and 99.94%, respectively. The feasibility to scale up this separation process was corroborated by a setup of mixer-settlers and highlighted by the possibility to fully recover and reuse the deep-eutectic solvent and the less polar phases employed in the extractions. The new proposed system based on a deep-eutectic solvent combined with traditional organic extraction phases presented higher selectivities and efficiencies than the analogous aqueous system. Extended X-ray absorption fine structure (EXAFS) was employed to elucidate the different mechanisms for extraction of Co and Fe from the deep-eutectic solvent and from an aqueous solution.
Functionalized Ionic Liquid