An ideal approach for purifying the rare earth metals has finally been found. By relying on the magnetic field of metals during the crystallization process, researchers were able to selectively and proficiently separate the rare earth metals' mixtures.
FREMONT, CA: A new approach has been discovered by the researchers at Pennsylvania University that can separate mixtures of rare earth metals by fusing a magnetic field. With a reduced temperature, the technique tends to crystallize the metal ions at different rates.
This proposal intends to make rare earth metals' extraction less toxic, especially while recycling them from electronic gadgets, and eliminating the use of acidic solutions.
The approach will allow in selectively and efficiently separating the heavy rare earth metals such as ytterbium and terbium from the lighter metals like neodymium and lanthanum. In this approach, mixtures are kept into a solution of acid and organic compound, where individual metal ions steadily move out of the acidic to a natural stage, at different rates as per the chemical properties of the metal.
These individual rare metals vary in their paramagnetism or according to the way they are drawn to magnetic fields. Researchers are finding ways to utilize paramagnetism to isolate distinct rare earth elements.
Through this approach, it is possible to decrease the massive amount of acid waste that is generated in a conventional rare earth metals extraction. It is because many chemical properties, like solubility and their reactions with other elements, are identical between precious earth metals. This shortage of substantial chemical difference indicates that separating them might require a massive input of acid solution along with time, and energy is required.
After carrying it out for nearly 10,000 times, it starts functioning well; however, every individual is poorly efficient. The scientists' position is to consider every application that is associated with chemical separations or is utilizing an approach that can be applied to the latest separation systems to complement the existing technology.
Finding the newest ways of performing separations more proficiently can help scientists to resolve the geopolitical and climate problems that are related to rare earth mining and recycling soon.