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Doctoral Examination – Tenisha Q. Meadows

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About the event

Title: Investigation of Trivalent Neodymium and Europium Oxalate Crystallization Processes: Thermodynamic Modeling, Spectroscopy, and Microscopy Analysis

Tenisha Meadows (S. Clark Group)

Abstract: Industrial separation and purification processes include the use of oxalic acid to precipitate rare earth elements (REEs) such as neodymium and europium. Understanding how the initial solution affects the final crystal morphology is of fundamental importance, and it supports the design of environmentally effective processes. This work investigates the interplay of thermodynamics and kinetics on crystallization processes by using a combination of thermodynamic modeling, spectroscopy, and microscopy techniques. The use of thermodynamic modeling on neodymium and europium oxalate in acidic media demonstrated comparable results to work reported in the literature. Experiments have shown multiple spectroscopic techniques permit real-time, simultaneous observation of the total europium(III) ad neodymium(III) concentration change in the aqueous phase and the precipitate solid formation leading to a better understanding of the mechanism of the crystallization process. Our results have shown varying initial solution conditions lead to differences in solution kinetics along with particle morphology and size distribution. The combination of microscopy techniques permitted in situ observations and kinetic insights on the early stages of particle growth to understand how variations in precipitation conditions affect the morphology of the solid product. Results indicate that particle growth rates depend on neodymium(III) concentration and strike direction, among other factors. This work aims to better understand and predict the correlation between initial solution conditions and resulting material characteristics by investigating how the initial solution influences the kinetics and resulting particle morphology. Connecting the solution conditions to material properties may provide valuable information to improve aqueous processes for industrial processes.

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Sue B. Clark