Separation of rare earth elements from mixed-metal feedstocks by micelle enhanced ultrafiltration with sodium dodecyl sulfate

Borte Kose-Mutlu*, Heileen Hsu-Kim, Mark R. Wiesner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Micelle enhanced ultrafiltration (MEUF) is a surfactant-based membrane separation process that may be used to separate target ions from mixed metal aqueous solutions, such as leachates of coal ash and other geological wastewaters. The ability of MEUF to separate rare earth elements (REEs) was evaluated using sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) as the sorbent in surfactant micelle phase, which was subsequently separated using ultrafiltration, acidification, and ferricyanide precipitation. Separation experiments were performed with a synthetic coal ash leachate feedstock as an example mixed-metal feedstock. Experiments tested the influence of surfactant concentration, pH, and co-existing competitive ions on REE recoveries, and also tested methods for SDS recovery and reuse. Membrane rejection efficiencies of REEs were 97% and 71% respectively for synthetic and real leachate under optimized operating conditions. A two-step process of precipitation with CaCl2 and Na2CO3 following membrane separation was the best for recovering SDS with a yield of 99.7%.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1013-1025
Number of pages13
JournalEnvironmental Technology (United Kingdom)
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


The research was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy under Project No. DE-FE0026952 and the U.S. National Science Foundation Environmental Engineering Program (CBET-1510965). The financial support for Dr. Borte Kose-Mutlu was provided by TUBITAK 2219-International Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Program. The authors also thank Ross Taggart for providing coal fly ash leachate and David Dickerson for supplying UP020 and UP150 membranes.

FundersFunder number
National Science Foundation Environmental Engineering ProgramCBET-1510965
U.S. Department of EnergyDE-FE0026952


    • Micelle enhanced ultrafiltration (MEUF)
    • rare earth elements (REEs)
    • recovery
    • reuse
    • sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS)


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