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cerium powder is a very common polishing agent used for glass. It is sold in a powder form and mixed with water to make a slurry that can be applied to a buffing pad to remove fine scratches on glass surfaces. The slurry also helps to keep the polishing pad wet so it doesn’t overheat and burn the glass. Be sure to have a container of some sort ready that will hold a small amount of water; quart or pint sized containers work well.

The ceria is a high-melting and highly reactive rare earth metal, with a crystal structure similar to that of yttrium. It exhibits a wide range of magnetic and chemical properties, and is used in specialized glass (telescope mirrors) and other heat-resistant alloys, as an abrasive, and for ceramic coatings.

An industrial process for recovery of cerium from glass polishing waste has been developed by Hydrometal, Belgium. This is based on the reductive leaching of glass polishing waste with nitric acid, followed by purification and drying to give the cerium. This method has been successfully applied to a glass recycling plant.

Currently, large amounts of cerium and other rare earths are generated as waste from the glass polishing process. Some of this is recovered and re-used in the polishing process, but much of it is lost to the environment in the form of polluted discharges that necessitate waste treatment systems. Janos et al. [45] transformed the glass polishing waste into a phosphor elimination adsorbent material, and Poscher et al. [46] have leached the polishing waste with thiourea reducing and hydrochloric acid to recover cerium.

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