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Purification of Beryllium by Solvent Extraction from Carbonate Solutions with Quaternary Alkylammonium Carbonate

Forest G. Seeley, David J. Crouse

Nuclear Technology

Volume 19 / Number 3 / September 1973 / Pages 140-147


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A process has been developed for upgrading impure beryllium hydroxide to high-purity beryllium compounds. The crude beryllium hydroxide is dissolved in ammonium bicarbonate solution and extracted with a quaternary ammonium compound in a hydrocarbon diluent. Beryllium is recovered from the solvent extract with concentrated ammonium bicarbonate solution and precipitated as pure Be(OH)2 by heating the solution to volatilize ammonia and carbon dioxide, which are recovered for recycle. Small concentrations of ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid are added to the process solutions to increase separations from contaminants. In a small-scale demonstration of the process starting with a beryllium sulfate solution containing 20 metal contaminants (total of 1.3 × 105-ppm parts of BeO), the BeO product had no detectable metal impurities but metalloid impurities (silicon and boron) of 60-ppm parts of BeO. Later tests showed that the boron content of the product can be reduced by adding a small amount of a boron complexing agent to the process solution.

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