US researchers extract rare earth elements from phosphogypsum

Time: 2019-03-20

Rare earth elements, known as industrial vitamins, are indispensable materials for many high-tech equipment such as mobile phones and computers. The world's rare earth reserves are not abundant, and the distribution is uneven, and the supply shortage is in the long run. Recently, US researchers published a research report in the online edition of the Journal of Chemical Thermodynamics, stating that they have developed a method for extracting rare earth elements from industrial waste, phosphogypsum, or to alleviate the tight supply of rare earth elements.

This time, in order to test whether rare earth elements can be extracted from phosphogypsum, research groups composed of researchers from the National Laboratory of Idaho, Rutgers University, etc., doped yttrium, lanthanum, cerium, lanthanum in phosphogypsum. Six rare earth elements such as lanthanum and cerium, and then studied various options for extracting rare earth elements. They found that a solution to recover rare earth elements using a chemical mixture produced by Gluconobacter oxydans was very effective. Gluconobacter is a common bacterium that produces organic acids such as gluconic acid, which dissolves rare earth elements in surrounding materials and dissolves them into solution through a process called "bioleaching" from solution. The precipitated rare earth element can be used for industrial production after purification.

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