Rare earth elements (REEs), which include lanthanides as yttrium and europium became crucial in the last decade in many sectors like automotive, energy, and defense. They contribute to the increment efficiency and performance of different products. In this paper nanofiber membranes have been successfully applied for the selective recovery of Eu(III) and Y(III) from aqueous solutions. Polyacrylonitrile (PAN) electrospun nanofibers were impregnated with a commercial organic extractant, Cyanex 272, in order to increase their affinity to rare earth metals ions. The coated nanofibers were characterized by SEM, ATR-FTIR, and TGA. Firstly, the adsorption of Eu(III) and Y(III) were evaluated in batch mode. Experimental data showed that the adsorption of Y(III) and Eu(III) corresponds to pseudo-second order model, with Langmuir sorption model being the best fit for both target ions. The results demonstrated that the adsorption capacity was high, showing a maximum capacity of 200 and 400 mg/g for Y(III) and Eu(III), respectively. Additionally, the presence of interfering ions does not show significative effects in the adsorption process. Finally, experiments in continuous mode indicated that the adsorption of the target elements is close to 100%, showing that PAN-272 is a promising material for the recovery of earth metal ions.
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