"REMSIL (Rare Earth Metal Separation with Ionic Liquids) focuses on the design and development of novel technologies based on task specific ionic liquids (TSILs), solid-supported-ionic liquids (SSILs) and ionogel membranes for the separation and recovery of high-tech rare earth metals (REMs).With the current demand for these high-tech metals and their severely limited supply in the EU, their recycling has become vital. Separation and recovery of REMs from secondary sources (“urban mining”) has become a necessity.
Ionic liquids have great potential as alternative and environmentally benign solvents for high-tech metal extraction, separation and processing. In the first stage, novel task specific ionic liquids (TSILs) with specific REM coordinating abilities will be synthesised. Model systems for technologically important REM separations will be evaluated, to demonstrate significantly improved separations for these systems over conventional solvents.Understanding the principles governing solubility of rare earth in ionic liquids is of vital importance for extraction processes and will be studied using a combination of spectroscopic techniques. These results feed back into the design of improved TSILs. In the third stage, solid supported ionic liquids (SSILs) will be developed to evaluate their potential for REM separations in industrial-scale processes.
The potential of novel TSILs with specific coordinating abilities for rare earth metal extraction and separation, including fundamental studies to improve understanding of the underpinning extraction mechanisms will be explored. The objective is to develop a new generation of cost-efficient and environmental friendly ionic liquids that will pave the way to develop new rare earth metal separation technologies. Dr Ritesh Ruhela will transfer knowledge in the design and synthesis of rare-earth metal selective ionic liquids and in metal separation technologies to the Host Institute, Queen’s University Belfast (QUB)."
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