Professor Andrew Masters, University of Manchester
Rare earth metals form vital components in a variety of high-technology applications. However, there are few sources of these metals at present, and this poses a risk to their on-going supply. The supply of rare earth metals is limited and, as such, recycling them is likely to become an important task. Little molecular-based work has been done on the use of ionic liquids to extract such metals, and this means that there is a lack of reliable thermodynamic data available. This project focusses on the use of ionic liquids to extract rare earth metals from waste materials. Ionic liquids are a group of novel compounds, capable of being finely tuned for a specific process. Computer simulations will be used to model, at an atomic level, how a variety of ionic liquids are able to extract these metals, and so obtain reliable thermodynamic data on these systems.