An environmentally friendlier approach to hydrometallurgy

Scientists from Belgium have developed an environmentally friendly route to separate cobalt from nickel, magnesium and calcium in chloride medium.

Koen Binnemans and colleagues from KU Leuven and Umicore, Belgium used undiluted phosphonium-based ionic liquids as the extractants with tri(hexyl)tetradecylphosphonium chloride (Cyphos IL 101) as the best ionic liquid tested in terms of commercial availability, separation characteristics and ease of handling.  The main advantage of their method is the fact that no organic diluents are required and thus volatile organic solvents can be avoided. The process enabled separation factors greater than 50 000 to be observed for cobalt/nickel separation.  In addition, the ionic liquid can easily be recovered and reused as extractant so there is potential for a continuous extraction process to be developed.

This article is free to access until the 6th June 2012!  Click on the link below to find out more…

An environmentally friendlier approach to hydrometallurgy: highly selective separation of cobalt from nickel by solvent extraction with undiluted phosphonium ionic liquids, Sil Wellens, Ben Thijs and Koen Binnemans, Green Chem., 2012, DOI: 10.1039/C2GC35246J

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