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ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. 2013 Oct 9;5(19):9719-25. doi: 10.1021/am4027967. Epub 2013 Sep 27.

Recycling rare earth elements from industrial wastewater with flowerlike nano-Mg(OH)(2).

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  • 1State Key Laboratory of Structural Chemistry, Fujian Institute of Research on the Structure of Matter, Chinese Academy of Sciences , Fuzhou, Fujian, 350002 P. R. China.


Treatment of wastewater containing low-concentration yet highly-expensive rare earth elements (REEs) is one of the vital issues in the REEs separation and refining industry. In this work, the interaction and related mechanism between self-supported flowerlike nano-Mg(OH)2 and low-concentration REEs wastewater were investigated. More than 99% REEs were successfully taken up by nano-Mg(OH)2. Further analysis revealed that the REEs could be collected on the surface of Mg(OH)2 as metal hydroxide nanoparticles (<5 nm). An ion-exchange model was proposed as a critical factor for both guaranteeing the reaction speed and maintaining the self-supported structure of the materials. In addition, a method was developed to further separate the immobilized REEs and the residual magnesium hydroxide by varying the solution pH. In a pilot-scale experiment, the REEs from practical wastewater were immobilized effectively at a high flow rate. We anticipate this work can provide a good example for the recycling of valuable REEs in practical industrial applications.

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