CHAPTER 6: F‐block Elements Recovery
Published:18 Jul 2013
The rare‐earth elements (lanthanides) have become vital components in many areas of modern day life and fulfil an unparalleled role in many advanced ‘green‐technologies’ ranging from powerful magnets in wind turbines to energy efficient fluorescent lighting. Equally, the actinide element uranium is an extremely powerful commodity in nuclear power generation in low carbon energy production. The essential role of these elements in these technologies has resulted in an unprecedented increase in demand and price of raw material resources. However, all the f‐block elements are finite resources and concerns over exhaustion of raw materials, security of supply, the supply chain and in the case of the actinides, the build up of long‐lived radioactive wastes are now of immense global concern. Focus has recently turned to post consumer recovery and recycling strategies in order to address these issues and to circumvent the pressing matter of supply vulnerability by closing the mining/manufacturing processes and the nuclear fuel cycle. This chapter describes the many modern commercial uses of the f‐elements and outlines current and future recovery/recycling options in line with the transition to a more sustainable energy conscious society.