Chemical extraction of rare earth elements from coal ash
The overall goal of this study is to develop a suitable flow sheet to extract rare earth elements (REEs) from coal ash. A total of 14 coal samples of different ranks were examined for REE concentration, and an anthracite coal sample with the highest REE concentration of more than 700 ppm in the coal ash was selected for REE extraction tests. This paper reports on the results of the experimental program completed in the first part of the study, which included high-temperature leaching with nitric acid followed by solvent extraction tests using various organic extractants, namely, tributyl phosphate, Cyanex 572, di-(2-ethylhexyl)phosphoric acid (D2EHPA) and their combinations. A 4×2×2 experimental design was used to conduct a total of 32 high-temperature leaching tests by varying acid molarity at four levels, solids content at two levels and leaching time at two levels. The highest recovery rates of 90 percent for light rare earth elements (LREEs) and 94 percent for heavy rare earth elements (HREEs) were obtained from the optimum leaching test conditions while maintaining impurity recovery to the leachate at less than 40 percent. D2EHPA was found to be the best extractant in this solvent extraction test series, providing an REE recovery rate of nearly 99 percent.
Key wordsCoal ash Chemical extraction Rare earth elements
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