Exploring blast furnace slag as a secondary resource for extraction of rare earth elements
To explore blast furnace slag as a secondary resource for rare earth elements (REEs), blast furnace slag containing lanthanum (La), cerium (Ce), erbium (Er) and neodymium (Nd) in concentrations of 17, 16, 4 and 44 ppm, respectively, was processed with sulfuric acid while optimizing the parameters of acid concentration, temperature and pulp density. The experiments showed that recovery rates of 92, 36, 35 and 52 percent for La, Ce, Nd and Er, respectively, were achieved at 1 to 5 weight/volume (w/v) percent pulp density using particles smaller than 250 µm and treating with 1 M sulfuric acid for one hour at room temperature. Raising the temperature to 95 °C promoted the dissolutions of Ce and Nd to 89 and 84 percent, respectively, for the same 1 M acid concentration and one-hour duration at 5 w/v percent pulp density. Cyanex 923 was preferred over Cyanex 301 for the purification of REEs from leach liquor. In another route, the leach liquor was subjected to precipitation with 0.5 to 1 M oxalic acid, resulting in a product with 4 to 5 percent concentration of REEs.
Key wordsBlast furnace slag Rare earth elements Association Leaching Separation
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