Rare Earth Recovery and Separation from Ionic Liquids


Invention Summary

The process for dissolving, electrochemically recovering and separating rare earth metals from ionic liquid solutions is disclosed. Rare earth metals are valued for their unique magnetic, optical and catalyst properties which are used in many clean energy technologies including wind turbines, electric vehicles, photovoltaic thin films and fluorescent lighting. Lanthanides are typically found in mineral deposits that require costly processing and refinement. The separation and purification of the individual lanthanide elements is laborious and energy intensive. Thus, dissolution, separation, and recovery technologies are sought to enable more rapid, flexible, efficient, and environmentally-friendly extraction and separations processes. The dissolution, separation, and recovery of individual lanthanide metals, through selective electrochemical deposition using ionic liquid media are outlined. In our approach, the unique solvating capability of ionic liquids is exploited to dissolve stoichiometric amounts of lanthanide salts and oxides. The electrochemical deposition of five different rare earth elements from an ionic liquid media has been achieved. In addition, the measurements demonstrated that the electrochemical potential can be used to selectively deposit and hence recover individual rare earth metals from IL solutions containing multiple species.


Intellectual Property  

US Patent Number 10,422,048

Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
John Minnick
Business Development Officer
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Kyle Boutin
Kenneth Czerwinski
Janelle Droessler
David Hatchett
Karen Jayne
Michael Kimble
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