Complex, hypersaline brines-including those coproduced with oil and gas, rejected from desalination technologies, or used as working fluids for geothermal electricity generation-could contain critical materials such as the rare earth elements (REE) in valuable concentrations. Accurate quantitation of these analytes in complex, aqueous matrices is necessary for evaluation and implementation of systems aimed at recovering those critical materials. However, most analytical methods for measuring trace metals have not been validated for highly saline and/or chemically complex brines. Here we modified and optimized previously published liquid-liquid extraction (LLE) techniques using bis(2-ethylhexyl) phosphate as the extractant in a heptane diluent, and studied its efficacy for REE recovery as a function of three primary variables: background salinity (as NaCl), concentration of a competing species (here Fe), and concentration of dissolved organic carbon (DOC). Results showed that the modified LLE was robust to a range of salinity, Fe, and DOC concentrations studied as well as constant, elevated Ba concentrations. With proper characterization of the natural samples of interest, this method could be deployed for accurate analysis of REE in small volumes of hyper-saline and chemically complex brines.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Environmental Chemistry