Technique for Enhanced Rare Earth Separation

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Science  29 Sep 2000:
Vol. 289, Issue 5488, pp. 2326-2329
DOI: 10.1126/science.289.5488.2326

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A process is demonstrated for the efficient separation of rare earth elements, using a combination of selective reduction and vacuum distillation of halides. The large differences in the redox chemistry of the rare earth elements and in the vapor pressures of rare earth di- and trihalides are exploited for separation. Experimental proof of concept is provided for the binary systems praseodymium-neodymium and neodymium-samarium. This process enhances the separation factor for the isolation of samarium and neodymium from their mixture by more than an order of magnitude.

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