Europium and yttrium are critical materials required for LED, florescent lamp, cell phone screen, and flat panel display production. Nearly the entire worldwide production of europium and yttrium is recovered, as a minor constituent, from mining bastnäsite, monazite ore, or ion absorbing clays form China. The inspiration for this research is ongoing supply risks from Chinese production, environmental legacies from previous operations, and possibilities to minimize waste in the United State while monetizing an untapped resource in the United States.
The present research has developed a patent pending, hydrometallurgical, low temperature multistage process, for separating europium and yttrium from waste fluorescent lamps. Optimizing innovative processes such as selective leaching, selective reduction and precipitation, new methods have been developed to create a native supply of yttrium and europium in the United States.