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Yttrium and europium separation by solvent extraction with undiluted thiocyanate ionic liquids

Banda, Raju, Forte, Federica, Onghena, Bieke, Binnemans, Koen
RSC advances 2019 v.9 no.9 pp. 4876-4883
ammonia, calcium, calcium chloride, europium, fluorescent lamps, hydroxides, ionic liquids, leachates, oxides, quaternary ammonium compounds, thiocyanates, wastes, yttrium
An yttrium/europium oxide obtained by the processing of fluorescent lamp waste powder was separated into its individual elements by solvent extraction with two undiluted ionic liquids, trihexyl(tetradecyl)phosphonium thiocyanate, [C101][SCN], and tricaprylmethylammonium thiocyanate, [A336][SCN]. The best extraction performances were observed for [C101][SCN], by using an organic-to-aqueous volume ratio of 1/10 and four counter-current extraction stages. The loaded organic phase was afterwards subjected to scrubbing with a solution of 3 mol L⁻¹ CaCl₂ + 0.8 mol L⁻¹ NH₄SCN to remove the co-extracted europium. Yttrium was quantitatively stripped from the scrubbed organic phase by deionized water. Yttrium and europium were finally recovered as hydroxides by precipitation with ammonia and then calcined to the corresponding oxides. The conditions thus defined for an efficient yttrium/europium separation from synthetic chloride solutions were afterwards tested on a leachate obtained from the dissolution of a real mixed oxide. The purity of Y₂O₃ with respect to the rare-earth content was 98.2%; the purity of Eu₂O₃ with respect to calcium was 98.7%.