Commercially available chelating ion-exchange resins were applied to the separation of a mixture of heavy rare earths. This research was performed to further the understanding of lanthanide separations and improve upon current separation techniques. Separation coefficients of several rare earths were calculated based on their degree of adsorption in batch isotherm experiments. Yttrium showed particularly high separation coefficients compared to Sm, Eu, Gd, Tb and Dy which made up the balance of the mixture studied. Initial column experiments identified resin having iminodiacetic acid functionality as the most promising resin for yttrium upgrade. In the treatment of heavy rare earth feed from a known process stream, yttrium was found to behave similarly to non-ionic components in ion-exclusion chromatography. This resin failed to separate the rare earth mixture used when elution chromatography was attempted. Further experiments were conducted to determine conditions which optimize ion-exclusion behavior. Analysis of variance was utilized to determine significant response across the conditions considered. It was found that conditions conducive to increased absorption kinetics favored yttrium upgrade.
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