Two kinds of acidic organophosphonates with different bulky ester groups, 2-[p-(1,1,3,3-tetramethylbutyl)phenoxy]ethyl and p-(1,1,3,3-tetramethylbutyl)phenyl groups, were synthesized to investigate their extraction behavior for nine kinds of rare earth elements from aqueous acidic nitrate media. The extraction reaction was discussed based on the slope analysis to evaluate the extraction equilibrium constants (Kex) for each metal ion and the separation factors (β). These extractants synthesized in the present work were found to possess stronger extractabilities for rare earth metals than commercial extractants like D2EHPA and PC-88A. Their separation efficiencies are also comparable with the commercial extractants mentioned above.
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