Document Type


Publication Date



Statler College of Engineering and Mining Resources


Mining Engineering


The increasing industrial demand for rare earths requires new or alternative sources to be found. Within this context, there have been studies validating the technical feasibility of coal and coal byproducts as alternative sources for rare earth elements. Nonetheless, radioactive materials, such as thorium and uranium, are frequently seen in the rare earths’ mineralization, and causes environmental and health concerns. Consequently, there exists an urgent need to remove these radionuclides in order to produce high purity rare earths to diversify the supply chain, as well as maintain an environmentally-favorable extraction process for the surroundings. In this study, an experimental design was generated to examine the effect of zeolite particle size, feed solution pH, zeolite amount, and contact time of solid and aqueous phases on the removal of thorium and uranium from the solution. The best separation performance was achieved using 2.50 g of 12-µm zeolite sample at a pH value of 3 with a contact time of 2 h. Under these conditions, the adsorption recovery of rare earths, thorium, and uranium into the solid phase was found to be 20.43 wt%, 99.20 wt%, and 89.60 wt%, respectively. The Freundlich adsorption isotherm was determined to be the best-fit model, and the adsorption mechanism of rare earths and thorium was identified as multilayer physisorption. Further, the separation efficiency was assessed using the response surface methodology based on the development of a statistically significant model.

Source Citation

Talan, D.; Huang, Q. Separation of Radionuclides from a Rare Earth-Containing Solution by Zeolite Adsorption. Minerals 2021, 11, 20.


This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

This article received support from the WVU Libraries' Open Access Author Fund.



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