The research and development work carried out at the Ames Laboratory on the chemistry and metallurgy of yttrium is described in detail in this report or companion reports to which references are herein made. Discussions of the separation of yttrium from the rare-earth elements by ion exchange, of comprehensive investigations of the preparation of yttrium fluoride, and of various ways of reducing the fluoride to the metallic state are presented. Chemical and spectrographic methods of analyzing yttrium and its compounds for oxygen and other impurities are described and comparisons made between the different methods.
A pilot plant process for producing tonnage quantities of yttrium metal is presented with detailed descriptions of the equipment and
operating procedures employed. The complete process entails the extraction of an yttrium and rare earth mixture from xenotime sand, separation of the yttrium from this mixture in thirty-inch-diameter columns, hydrofluorination of the resulting oxide and its subsequent reduction to the metal. The basic metal process consists of the reduction of yttrium fluoride with calcium, forming a low melting yttrium-magnesium alloy. The magnesium is subsequently removed by vacuum sublimation, producing a porous yttrium product. This is consolidated by vacuum arc melting into a six-inch-diameter ingot.
Quantities of high purity yttrium metal were prepared by vacuum distillation and by-a sa,lt extraction refining process. Yttrium metal containing 100 to 300 ppm oxygen is soft, ductile and easily fabricated at room temperature.
Banks, C. V.; Carlson, O. N.; Daane, A. H.; Fassel, V. A.; Fisher, R. W.; Olson, E. H.; Powell, J. E.; and Spedding, F. H., "Studies on the preparation, properties and analysis of high purity yttrium oxide and yttrium metal at the Ames Laboratory" (1959). Ames Laboratory Technical Reports. 1.