REEcover stands for Recovery of Rare Earth Elements from magnetic waste in the WEEE recycling industry and tailings from the iron ore industry.
Our consortium is currently researching the utilization of methods to extract the following Rare Earth Elements (REEs) from industrial waste streams: Neodymium, Dysprosium, Terbium and Yttrium.
The complete REEcover project structure in one infographic.
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The electrolysis see-through cell, developed by SINTEF in the EU-financed REEcover project for electrowinning of rare earth elements, enables in-situ observation of the electrode reactions in high temperature molten salt electrolysis.
At the anode, the gas evolution during electrolysis of rare earth elements has been recorded for durations exceeding half an hour of electrolysis, passing more than 800 coulombs of charge. The small bubbles observed at the anode are distributed evenly over the anode surface. As the gas bubbles easily detach from the electroactive surface, overpotential due to bubble formation is low.
The cell may also be used for studying the formation of metal elements at the cathode.
In-situ observation dissolution of neodymium oxide particles in fluoride melts
Oxide-fluoride electrolysis is the major process to commercially produce light rare earth metals and the alloys of heavy rare earth elements. During the process, dissolved rare earth oxide in molten fluoride mixtures is reduced at the cathode. The deficiency of oxide can lead to generation of fluorocarbon covering graphite anode and preventing electrolysis. On the other hand, overfeeding can be detrimental to the quality of final products. A systematic study of the dissolution process is of crucial importance for both scientific understanding and practical application. Confocal scanning laser microscope (CSLM) enables in-situ observation of phenomena at high temperature. With its assistance, the dissolution kinetics of neodymium oxide was studied in different molten fluorides and at different temperature in order to find out the rate limiting step, diffusion coefficient, and activation energy. This work is an important part of WP4 in REEcover project.
This movie shows the dissolution process of a neodymium oxide (Nd2O3) particle (ca. 350 um in diameter) in the binary melt of LiF-CaF2 at 968°C.