1995 Volume 28 Issue 5 Pages 601-608
Equilibrium and non-equilibrium extraction separations of rare earth metals were carried out in the presence of chelating agent in the aqueous phase. The separation systems of the rare earth metal mixtures used were Y/Dy, Y/Ho, Y/Er and Y/Tm, and the chelating agent and the extractant were diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid (DTPA) and bis(2,4,4-trimethylpentyl) phosphinic acid (CYANEXR® 272), respectively. For Y/Dy and Y/Ho systems, higher selectivities were obtained in equilibrium separation compared with those in non-equilibrium separation. On the other hand, the selectivities in non-equilibrium separation were higher for Y/Er and Y/Tm systems. In the separation condition suitable to each system, the addition of DTPA to the aqueous phase was found to be very effective for obtaining higher selectivities. The distribution ratios of the rare earth metals and the selectivities in the equilibrium separations obtained experimentally were thoroughly analyzed by considering various equilibria such as the extraction equilibrium and the complex formation equilibrium between rare earth metals and DTPA in the aqueous phase. Moreover, the extraction rates and the selectivities in the non-equilibrium separations were also analyzed by the extraction model considering the dissociation reactions of the rare earth metal-DTPA complexes in the aqueous stagnant layer. Based on these analyses, we presented an index which is useful for selecting the optimum operation mode, that is, for determining whether equilibrium or non-equilibrium separation should be employed. Using this index, we can predict that the selectivities under equilibrium conditions are higher than those under non-equilibrium conditions for Y/Dy and Y/Ho systems, while for Y/Er and Y/Tm systems, higher selectivities are obtained under non-equilibrium conditions. The experimental results were in agreement with predictions by this index. Further, the selectivities in various systems including other chelating agents and extractants were discussed based on this index.