Phosphonium/ammonium-based ionic liquids for rare earth minerals beneficiation : case of monazite and bastnäsite

Authors: Azizi, Dariush
Advisor: Larachi, Faïcal
Abstract: This Ph.D. thesis examines the application of phosphonium/ammonium based ionic liquids in the beneficiation of rare earth element bearing minerals. It has been divided into four main parts. Firstly, the use of phosphonium/ammonium based ionic liquids in three different approaches for rare earth element minerals beneficiation has been explored. These three processes were examined for actual rare earth elements bearing complex ore from Niobec deposit as well as for its constitutive model minerals consisting of monazite and bastnäsite associated with other gangue minerals. Subsequently, application of phosphonium based ionic liquids in rare earth elements solvent extraction has been studied from quantumchemistry point of view. In the first process in rare earth element minerals beneficiation, application of a phosphonium/ammonium based ionic liquid as an aqueous collector for froth flotation of rare earth element minerals was studied. In this study, the ionic liquid revealed superior performance to recover rare earth elements bearing minerals as compared with industrial hydroxamic acid collectors. The ionic liquid anionic and cationic moieties interactions during rare earth element minerals flotation were rationalized in terms of an inner synergistic pathway, meaning that the uptake of both cationic and anionic moieties through ionic liquid collector adsorption occurred altogether. In the second process in rare earth element minerals beneficiation, the potential of liquid-liquid mineral separation mediated by means of three types of phosphonium/ammonium based ionic liquids to beneficiate rare earth elements bearing minerals was studied. This process was found to outperform micro-flotation of the same minerals in terms of selectivity. Likewise, it was shown that this process can be effectively applied over a wide range of pH (4-9) and for fine particle sizes (-105 μm) in rare earth element minerals beneficiation. Interaction of the ionic liquid on the mineral surfaces occurred in aqueous phase, aqueousorganic phases interface and also in the organic phase thereby promoting minerals activation and next separation. In the third process in rare earth element minerals beneficiation, the potential of ionic liquid-ionic liquid mineral separation process as a novel ionic liquid-based system to beneficiate rare earth elements bearing minerals was investigated. A phosphonium/ammonium based ionic liquid as droplet phase and three different ionic liquids as continuous phase were used to assess this approach of beneficiation of rare earth elements bearing minerals. This process revealed high potential, as an alternative, to beneficiate rare earth elements bearing ore as it even outperformed the two previous processes in terms of selectivity and rare earth elements recovery. In the last part of this thesis, quantum chemistry simulations based on DFT have been undertaken to rank the complex-forming ability of thirty different phosphonium based ionic liquids in solvent extraction of rare earth elements. This study firstly indicated that phosphonium based ionic liquids can be applied more effectively for solvent extraction of rare earth elements in pregnant solutions resulting from nitric and hydrochloride acids leaching process, and less by means of sulfuric acid leaching. It was also demonstrated that while anionic moieties of phosphonium based ionic liquids are able to make directly covalent bonds during complexation with rare earth elements, their cationic moieties can be involved in complexation through outer-sphere interactions. The implications of this research work include new insights towards application of phosphonium based ionic liquids into mineral and metal processing especially rare earth elements processing. Finding from this work can contribute to the rare earth industry in order to improve efficiency of mineral beneficiation and solvent extraction processes.
Document Type: Thèse de doctorat
Issue Date: 2018
Open Access Date: 7 June 2018
Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11794/29992
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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