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VIDEO: James McNiece: Master's Candidate in Mining Engineering



Video transcript:

Hi, I'm James McNiece

I'm completing a Master's of Applied Science

under Ahmad Ghahreman at

Queen's University.

My area of study is cerium oxidation and

and subsequent separation from other

rare earth elements.

The most interesting things that I've learned

while researching cerium extraction is just how

much we use cerium and many other rare earth metals

in our lives and don't realize it.

Cerium is really big in self-cleaning ovens.

It is the metal that is a lighter flint or any sort of

camping flint and it's also used as a fuel

stabilizer in the metal in a catalytic converter.

So, every catalytic converter contains about two

pounds of cerium.

Cerium is often found in high amounts relative to other,

more valuable rare earth metals.

And therefore, reducing the cost of separation is

of interest to industry.

So, what I'm attempting to do is find new

low-cost ways to do this in acidic media.

I do this by experimenting with selective precipitation

reactions. So, I will try with various reagents at different

concentrations, temperatures, and other conditions to

determine the ideal reagent and the best conditions

to achieve the most efficient separation of cerium

from other rare earth metals.

So, this is an example of one my selective precipitation

reactions for cerium.

What's happening in there is I have a cerium

metal solution at a set concentration and I test with

various oxidants to get a before-and-after of how

effective and sample over time to derive kenetic values

for these experiments.

The purple colour you're seeing is caused

by a low concentration of potassium permanganate

left over from the reaction after the cerium

has fully reacted and fallen out of solution.

In rare earth metal separation, all the metals will

be extracted in one solution with acid from the ore.

Once the leach liquour, as it's referred to, goes to

the subsequent plant processes, it's most efficient to

separate the cerium first, as it is the largest

fraction by mass, we would say, and therefore I'm trying

to do this without separating other rare earth metals

in a small scale. Then we can apply some scale-up factors

and make a reasonable guess about what it would look like

on a larger scale.