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Comment Separation Processes

Recovering rhenium photochemically

By Tetsuo Satoh |

Professor Hisao Hori and his research group at Kanagawa University (Hiratsuka City, Japan; www.kanagawa-u.ac.jp) have reported what is said to be the first photo-induced recovery of rhenium from aqueous solutions — an achievement with implications for an inexpensive way to recycle this rare earth element. The method has been shown to recover almost 95 wt.% of Re from solution — much higher than the 40–60% recovery achieved by conventional ammonia-based solvent-extraction — and the method is simpler than ion-exchange processes. And unlike solvent-extraction methods, the new process generates no nitrogen-containing wastewater. Traditionally, rhenium is obtained by collecting perrhenate ions (ReO4–) in water from rhenium(VII) oxide (Re2O7) in molybdenite (molybdenum ore) roasting gas, then repeatedly recrystallizing it by means of heat concentration and cooling. The resulting precipitate is manufactured by igniting it in a H2 stream, but since ReO4– salts are readily soluble in water across the entire pH range, the collection rate is low and the energy costs are high. In the new process, 2-propanol and acetone is added to an aqueous solution containing ReO4– ions, and the solution simply irradiated with ultraviolet-visible…
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