Recovery of Rare Earth Elements from Coal Fly Ash with Betainium Bis(trifluoromethylsulfonyl)imide: Different Ash Types and Broad Elemental Survey

Ting Liu, James C. Hower, Ching Hua Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Previously, proof-of-concept studies have demonstrated that rare-earth elements (REEs) can be preferentially extracted from coal fly ash (CFA) solids using a recyclable ionic liquid (IL), betainium bis(trifluoromethylsulfonyl)imide ([Hbet][Tf2N]). When the suspension of aqueous solution—IL-CFA—is heated above 65 °C, the majority of REEs will separate from the bulk elements in the solids and partition to the IL phase. Acid stripping of the IL removes REEs and regenerates the IL for reuse in additional extraction cycles. The objective of this study is to showcase the applicability and effectiveness of the optimized method to recover REEs from various CFAs. Six CFA samples with different characteristics (feed coal basins, coal beds, and ash collecting points) and classifications (Class C and Class F) were examined. The process performance was evaluated for a broad range of elements (33 total), including 15 REEs, two actinides, six bulk elements, and 10 trace metals. Results confirmed good recovery of total REEs (ranging from 44% to 66% among the CFA samples) and the recovery process’ high selectivity of REEs over other bulk and trace elements. Sc, Y, Nd, Sm, Gd, Dy, and Yb consistently showed high leaching and partitioning into the IL phase, with an average recovery efficiency ranging from 53.8% to 66.2%, while the other REEs showed greater variability among the different CFA samples. Some amounts of Al and Th were co-extracted into the IL phase, while Fe co-extraction was successfully limited by chloride complexation and ascorbic acid reduction. These results indicated that the IL-based REE-CFA recovery method can maintain a high REE recovery efficiency across various types of CFA, therefore providing a promising sustainable REE recovery strategy for various coal ash wastes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number952
JournalMinerals
Volume13
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the authors.

Keywords

  • coal combustion residuals
  • ionic liquids
  • rare-earth elements
  • resource recovery
  • sustainability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Geology

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