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Electrolysis Of Rare Earth Metals

Rare earth metals are generally divided into mixed rare earth metals and single rare earth metals. The composition of the mixed rare earth metal is close to that of the rare earth in the ore, and the single metal is the rare earth separation and purification of the metal. Rare earth oxide (in addition to samarium, europium, ytterbium and thulium oxide) as raw materials with the general metallurgical method is difficult to restore a single metal, because of its great heat generation, high stability. Therefore, the raw materials commonly used in the production of rare earth metals are their chlorides and fluorides.

Molten salt electrolysis

Industrial mass production of mixed rare earth metals are generally used in molten salt electrolysis. This method is rare earth chloride and other rare earth compounds heated and melted, and then electrolysis, in the cathode precipitation of rare earth metals. Electrolysis of chloride electrolysis and oxide electrolysis in two ways. The preparation of single rare earth metals varies from element to element. Samarium, europium, ytterbium, thulium due to high vapor pressure, not suitable for electrolysis preparation, and the use of reduction distillation. Other elements can be prepared by electrolysis of metal thermal reduction methods.

Chloride electrolysis is the most common method of producing metal, especially the mixed rare earth metal process is simple, cheap, small investment, but the biggest drawback is the chlorine release, pollution of the environment.

Oxygen electrolysis without harmful gas release, but the cost is slightly higher, the general production of a higher market of a single rare earth such as neodymium, praseodymium and so on with the oxide electrolysis.

Vacuum reduction

Electrolysis can only be prepared in general industrial grade rare earth metals, such as the preparation of low impurities, high purity metal, generally by vacuum heat reduction method to prepare. Rare earth oxide is usually made of rare earth fluoride, in the vacuum induction furnace with metal calcium reduction, made of crude metal, and then after remelting and distillation to obtain more pure metal, this method can produce all the single Rare earth metals, but samarium, europium, ytterbium, thulium can not use this method. The oxidation-reduction potential of samarium, europium, ytterbium, thulium and calcium only partially reduced the fluorinated rare earth. The general preparation of these metals is the use of the high vapor pressure of these metals and lanthanum metal low vapor pressure principle, the four kinds of rare earth oxides and lanthanum metal debris mixed briquettes, in a vacuum furnace reduction, lanthanum comparison Lively, samarium, europium, ytterbium, thulium lanthanum is reduced to metal after the collection in the condensation, and slag is easy to separate.

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