Utilizing Recyclable Task-Specific Ionic Liquid for Selective Leaching and Refining of Scandium from Bauxite Residue

Molecules. 2021 Feb 4;26(4):818. doi: 10.3390/molecules26040818.


Ionic liquids (ILs) have attracted great interest in the field of extractive metallurgy mainly because they can be utilized in low temperature leaching processes where they exhibit selectivity and recyclability. A major drawback in mixed aqueous-IL systems, is IL dissolution in the aqueous phase, which leads to IL losses, increasing the overall processing cost. This study advances the method for recovering scandium (Sc) from bauxite residue (BR) using as leaching agent the IL betainium bistriflimide, [Hbet][Tf2N] mixed with water, which has been reported in previous publications. Ionic liquid leachate (IL-PLS) was prepared by leaching BR with a mixture of [Hbet][Tf2N]-H2O and subjected to different stripping experiments using hydrochloric acid. The advancement, presented in this work, is related with the optimization of the metal extraction (stripping) from the IL-PLS, where an aqueous solution with high Sc concentration and minimum metal impurities and minimum IL co-extraction is produced. It is further proven that the metal cation extraction is defined by the stoichiometry of the acidic solution and the dissolution (losses) of the IL in the aqueous phase can be minimized by adjusting the volume ratio and the acid concentration. A two-step stripping process described, achieves the selective increase of Sc concentration by 8 times in the aqueous solution, while maintaining cumulative IL losses to similar levels as the optimum 1 step non-Sc selective stripping process.

Keywords: IL losses; bauxite residue; ionic liquids; scandium.

MeSH terms

  • Aluminum Oxide / chemistry*
  • Ionic Liquids / chemistry*
  • Mechanical Phenomena
  • Recycling*
  • Scandium / chemistry*
  • Water / chemistry


  • Ionic Liquids
  • Water
  • Aluminum Oxide
  • Scandium

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