Monday, March 07, 2022

Rare Earth metals from recycling old electronics.

A segment of March 5 2022 CBC science show "Quirks and Quarks" is about recycling rare earth metals. It was interesting. If you go to that link scroll down.

Rare earth's are important in electronics. China is a major supplier, but the US could produce more of it's own.

Apparently, when rare earths are mined, it also tends to bring up lots of radioactive elements, such as uranium. The US has such strict laws regarding disposal of radioactive waste that most of that mining isn't allowed. China has less concern about radioactive waste disposal so it's a major source of rare earth metals.

We could loosen those waste disposal rules, but there are some other workarounds, such as the main point in that segment of Quirks and Quarks. Recycling from sources of rare earth metals already on the surface. Electronic waste and other sources such as already existing coal fire powerplant fly ash waste.

The process involves quick heating up (to high temperatures) and then quick cooling the waste. After that, some other processes involving a wash with hydrochloric acid.

From childhood, I learned that hydrochloric acid is one of the main components of digestive juices in our stomachs. Stomach acid. It can also be manufactured artificially.

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