Rare Earth Metal Recovery using Ionic Liquids

Votes: 1
Views: 506

This technology is a new rare earth element (REE) recovery process using a room temperature ionic liquid solution. Current technologies for producing REEs require high temperatures and produce an abundance of toxic fluoride salt waste. These limitations create a need for an environmentally friendly, low temperature technology to produce rare earth metals. This process operates at lower temperatures in an energy efficient and environmentally safe manner.

This technology would be able to separate and purify rare earth metals. The metal is added to the ionic liquid solution as a salt or metal complex. A secondary, tertiary, quaternary, etc. component (gas, liquid, salt, or supercritical fluid) is added to the room temperature ionic liquid solution to reduce the viscosity and enhance solubility and mass transfer. By using a supercritical fluid, the metal complex can be delivered to the ionic liquid solution, diffusion of the metal is enhanced, and electrochemical byproducts can be removed to keep the electrochemical process continuously operating.


  • Energy efficient
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Lowers the required process temperature from 900C down to 40 C


  • Rare earth metal production
  • Recycling of magnets
  • Recovery of rare earth metals from mine tailings


Voting is closed!


  • Name:
    Donna Baek
  • Type of entry:
    Team members:
    Donna Baek, Robert Fox, Tedd Lister
  • Profession:
  • Donna is inspired by:
    Dr. Donna Ly Baek is a research chemist at Idaho National Laboratory specializing in supercritical fluids and metal extraction. At INL, she contributes her knowledge on supercritical fluid extraction to develop a supercritical fluid extraction and separation technique for recovering and recycling rare earth elements (REE).

    Dr. Fox is a senior chemical research scientist actively involved in proposing, capturing, performing, and directing innovative scientific research in the areas of analytical chemistry, process chemistry, electrochemistry, supercritical fluid sciences, nanomaterials synthesis and characterization, metal –complexation reactions, lanthanide and actinide separations, renewable and biofuel synthesis, geochemistry, environmental radiochemistry, LIBS atomic spectroscopy, laser spectroscopy, and molecular spectroscopy.

    Dr. Tedd Lister is an electrochemical scientist with Idaho National Laboratory with broad experience in energy storage, electrolysis, electrodeposition, and analytical electrochemistry. His work involves energy conversion reactions and surface processing for materials applications, also corrosion research, both applied and basic.
  • Patent status: