KU Leuven chemists retrieve rare earth metals from lamps (Flanders Today)
“A team of chemists from KU Leuven have discovered a safer and more efficient way to recuperate and recycle rare earth metals from lamps.”
Instead of using an acid, the researchers worked with an organic solvent that consists of ions, or electrically charged particles. The solvent works very selectively: It can dissolve the red lamp phosphor only. The recuperated rare earth metals are immediately reusable and the ionic fluid itself can also be used again.
“With this method, recycling requires a lot less chemicals and energy,” explained professor Koen Binnemans. “It is a better alternative, both technically and ecologically, for traditional solvents.”