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Microstructure-efficiency relationship in liquid-liquid extraction

Abstract : It is a matter of strategic independence for Europe to urgently find processes taking account of environmental and economic issues, when mining and recycling rare earth elements. Separation and recycling of rare earths from electronic waste is important for the success of present and future carbon-free technologies. Hydrometallurgical separation based on nanoscience is one of the first technologies allowing the take-off of circular economy. Liquid-liquid extraction is a promising method for retrieving rare earths from electronic waste. However, an optimized process on an industrial scale has not been established. One major reason is the lack of fundamental knowledge, therefore designing a cost-efficient, adaptive and predictive formulation is still out of scope of possibilities. Emulsification and demulsification processes in extraction devices are only efficient when the coexisting phases are located between binodal tie-lines in the Winsor II regime. Most extraction processes are based on the combination of an extractant with a diluent. The main disadvantage of these processes is the formation of viscous emulsions known as third phase accident. This occurs when processes are intensified by increasing solute and extractant concentration. Our objective is to develop the fundamental understanding involved in the process’ complex fluids (experimental and theoretical) concerning liquid-liquid extraction of REE and furthermore to use it to design new, cost-effective and environment-friendly recycling processes. A new and promising approach has been recently proposed using Ultra Flexible MicroEmulsions (UFME) which are characterized by an Ornstein-Zernike scattering often observed for weak extractants. These surfactant-free self-assembly is based on the usage of hydrotropic co-solvents instead of the classical extractant/diluent couple. Co-solvents as well as hydrotropes quench the formation of third phases. A systematic comparison of the extracting power of a given formulation by the classical solvent-based, modifier enhanced co-solvent based and the new possible UFME route is now necessary. This requires measuring with enough precision the free energy of transfer of ions along the lines in the quaternary phase diagram. This is only achievable by using a newly developed liquid-liquid extraction microfluidic device coupled to X-ray fluorescence microanalysis. Our contribution towards a more complete understanding in this matter is the analysis and comparison of the phase behavior, extracting efficiency and selectivity of such systems as well as the correlation of these findings with the “ienaics” approach by identifying the molecular driving forces favoring or quenching the transfer.
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Submitted on : Thursday, September 9, 2021 - 7:38:14 AM
Last modification on : Tuesday, January 4, 2022 - 6:42:24 AM


  • HAL Id : cea-03338689, version 1


Asmae El Maangar, Mario Spadina, Jean Duhamet, Jean-Christophe P. Gabriel, Thomas Zemb. Microstructure-efficiency relationship in liquid-liquid extraction. RawMat 2021, Sep 2021, Athens, Greece. ⟨cea-03338689⟩



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