A team from NTUA Laboratory of Metallurgy and Mytilineos, Metallurgy Business Unit has been awarded the 2019 Light Metals Subject Award – Alumina/Bauxite for its innovative work “Developing a new process for selective extraction of Rare Earth Element from Bauxite Residue based on factionlized ionic liquids”.
Using a novel organic solvent, the team was able to selectively recover the ‘trace amounts’ of Scandium found in the Greek Bauxite Residue and produce concentrated scandium bearing solutions that can be used for Scandium production. The method is scheduled to be tested at pilot scale in Mytilineos alumina refinery plant during the next year, under the EC funded SCALE project.
Scandium is a technology enabler, i.e. an element with the ability to enhance advanced material properties through small additions. Scandium emerging applications include high strength – 3D printed aluminium alloys, solid oxide fuel cells, high power lasers and others [Read more on Scandium here: http://scale-project.eu/].
As Sc lacks the affinity to combine with the common ore-forming anions, it is rarely found in concentrations exceeding some hundreds of mgs per kg in the lithosphere. Extracting Sc from Bauxite residue will not only provide a source for this scarce element but will also valorize an exploited mineral resource such as the Bauxite residue, effectively moving the primary aluminium industry closer to a zero-waste production status.
This work was presented in the TMS conference in 2018 and has been published in Light Metals 2018, The Minerals, Metals & Materials Series, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-72284-9_20.