Project properties

Title Technological-critical Rare Earth Elements: Binding to iron-oxide nanoparticles
Group Soil Chemistry and Chemical Soil Quality
Project type thesis
Credits 36
Supervisor(s) Bert-Jan Groenenberg
Tjisse Hiemstra
Examiner(s) Rob Comans
Contact info bertjan.groenenberg@wur.nl
Begin date 2018/10/01
End date
Description Introduction
Rare earth elements (REE) are increasingly applied in modern society. Industries use REE in many high-technology devices, such as smart phones, digital cameras, fluorescent and light-emitting-diode (LED) lights, flat screen televisions, computer monitors, and electronic displays. Large quantities of specific REEs are also used in clean energy technologies.

Problem
Due to the high demand of these metals and the scarce economically minable deposits, REE supply is critical. Recycling is very low (just 2 %), implying an increasing emission into the environment. Therefore, studying the environmental behaviour of REE is highly relevant and may contribute to the development of technologies to recover these elements from less economic favourable deposits, secondary materials, and end-of-use products. Iron oxide play an important role in understanding the geochemical behaviour of REE in the environment and their extraction from iron-rich materials for processing REE.

Approach
In the present project, we will study the adsorption of REEs to ferrihydrite, a highly reactive omnipresent iron-oxide nanoparticle. The influence of environmental factors such as the pH will be determined and in addition the presence other ions such as phosphate. It is possible to combine the work with state of the art modelling
Used skills Design and setup of adsorption experiments
Laboratory work for data collection using batch experiments.
Data interpretation and writing
Requirements 12 credits of SOC/SBL-courses in either one of the following combinations: 1) SBL-21806 Soil Quality and SOC-34806 Applications in Soil and Water Chemistry; 2) SOC-21306 Soil Pollution and Soil Protection and SOC-34806 Applications in Soil and Water Chemistry; 3) SBL-35306 The Carbon Dilemma and SOC-34806 Applications in Soil and Water Chemistry; or 4) SOC-36306 Biogeochemical Cycles and Climate Change Mitigation and SBL-35306 The Carbon Dilemma.