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Open AccessArticle

Characterization and Feasibility Studies on Complete Recovery of Rare Earths from Glass Polishing Waste

Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Delft University of Technology, Mekelweg 2, 2628 CD Delft, The Netherlands
Process & Energy Department, Delft University of Technology, Leeghwaterstraat 39, 2628CB Delft, The Netherlands
VITO–Vlaamse Instelling voor Technologisch Onderzoek (Flemish Institute for Technological Research), Boeretang 200, B-2400 Mol, Belgium
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Metals 2019, 9(3), 278;
Received: 14 January 2019 / Revised: 20 February 2019 / Accepted: 21 February 2019 / Published: 28 February 2019
PDF [6070 KB, uploaded 28 February 2019]


One of the main applications of ceria (CeO2) is its use in glass polishing. About 16,000 tonnes of rare earth oxides, which is about 10% of total rare earth production, are used for polishing applications. The waste generated in glass polishing contains rare earths, along with other impurities. In this study, two different glass polishing waste samples were characterized and two different processes were proposed for the complete recovery of rare earths from polishing waste, i.e., an acid-based process and an alkali-based process. The polishing waste samples were characterized with inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES), X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (XRF), X-ray diffraction (XRD), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), thermo-gravimetric analysis (TGA) and particle size analysis. Chemical analysis showed that sample A (CeO2-rich waste from plate glass polishing) contained a high amount of impurities compared to sample B (CeO2-rich waste from mirror polishing). XRD analysis showed that sample B contained CeO2, LaO0.65F1.7 and LaPO4 compounds, whereas sample A contained CaCO3 in addition to rare earth compounds. SEM-EDX analysis showed the presence of alumino-silicates in sample A. Leaching experiments were carried out at 75 °C at different acid concentrations for the recovery of rare earths from polishing waste samples. The leaching results showed that it is difficult to dissolve rare earths completely in acid solutions due to the presence of fluorides and phosphates. Hence, undissolved rare earths in the leach residue were further recovered by an alkali treatment with NaOH. In another approach, polishing waste samples were directly treated with NaOH at 500 °C. After alkali treatment followed by water leaching, rare earths can be completely dissolved during acid leaching. Rare earths from polishing waste can be recovered completely by both the acid-based process and the alkali-based process. View Full-Text
Keywords: polishing waste; rare earths; waste utilization; characterization; leaching polishing waste; rare earths; waste utilization; characterization; leaching

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Borra, C.R.; Vlugt, T.J.H.; Spooren, J.; Nielsen, P.; Yang, Y.; Offerman, S.E. Characterization and Feasibility Studies on Complete Recovery of Rare Earths from Glass Polishing Waste. Metals 2019, 9, 278.

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