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Simpler, more selective scandium recovery

By Mary Page Bailey |

Rare-earth elements (REEs), such as scandium, are in high demand, but it is often difficult to economically recover and extract them. Now, II-VI Inc. (Saxonburg, Pa.; www.ii-vi.com) has developed a patent-pending process utilizing selective ion recovery (SIR) that enables highly selective extraction of scandium and other targeted REEs from streams with concentrations as low as 6 ppm. The process is also more economical than other REE extraction methods, since it eliminates the solvent-extraction and ion-exchange steps, as well as the processing and disposal costs associated with handling large volumes of solvents and reagents, says Shailesh Patkar, senior corporate development manager at II-VI. “Conventional extraction methods also face practical issues with rheology, phase separations and interference from competing ions, which can result in low yields,” adds Patkar, comparing SIR to a chemical “magnet” that separates desired REEs from other metals, even in the presence of undesirable elements, such as iron. In the SIR method, an acidic slurry containing scandium, typically generated in the production of titanium, aluminum, nickel, tungsten or other metals, is passed through a series of columns containing II-VI’s selective…
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