Electrolytic Production Of Neodymium Metal From A Molten Chloride Electrolyte
Description:The U.S. Bureau of Mines conducted experiments on electrowinning of neodymium metal by using a molten-metal cathode at 650° C and an electrolyte of 50 mol pct NdCl3 (neodymium chloride) and 50 mol pct KCI (potassium chloride). The molten-metal cathodes were alloys of magnesium and zinc or magnesium and cadmium. Current efficiencies were 90 pct with a Mg-Zn cathode and 80 pct with a Mg-Cd cathode; The Mg-Cd cathode was easily separated from the electrolyte. In contrast, the Mg-Zn cathode tended to mix with the electrolyte, making separation difficult. The cathode metals were separated from the neodymium by distillation at 1,100° C under a vacuum of 10-3 torr. Neodymium metal of 99.9+ purity was recovered from the Mg-Cd alloy cathode after 30 min distillation time. The neodymium recovered from the Mg-Zn system contained almost 2 pct Zn after vacuum distillation. Continuous operation using the Mg-Cd alloy cathode was demonstrated.
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