Journal of Rare Earths vol:32 issue:3 pages:195-200
This vision paper discusses the advantages and disadvantages of the three main options for the recycling of rare-earth elements from end-of-life fluorescent lamps: (1) direct re-use of the lamp phosphor mixture; (2) separation of the lamp phosphor mixture into the different phosphor components; (3) recovery of the rare-earth content. An overview is given of commercial activities in
Europe in the domain of recycling of materials from end-of-life fluorescent lamps and the recovery of rare earths from these lamps. The collection of end-of-life fluorescent lamps is currently driven by a legal framework that prohibited the release of mercury to the environment. The contaminations of the lamp phosphor powders by mercury and by small glass particles of crushed fluorescent lamps are limiting factors in the recycling process. Research should be directed to an advanced clean-up of the reclaimed lamp phosphor fraction, and in particular to the removal of mercury and glass fragments. The recovery of rare earths from the lamp phosphors could be facilitated by taking advantage of the differences in resistance of the different lamp phosphors by chemical attack by inorganic acids and bases.