Magnetic waste: new hope of rare earth recovery

The ree4eu project developed a closed-loop system from permanent magnet scrap to new products. This process is based on two new technologies. Rare earth magnet

First, the rare earth elements are removed from the wastewater in the form of oxalate by ionic liquid extraction. Second, high temperature electrolysis allows the production of rare earth alloys from the rare earth oxide mixture obtained by calcining the rare earth oxalate rare earth mixture by ionic liquid extraction.

Anna Maria Martinez, project coordinator, explained: “the beauty of this project lies in its tailored electrolysis process, because it eliminates the single rare earth oxide or halide separation and conversion steps in China’s major mining and processing routes.”

She pointed out that these customized new technologies can treat the rare earth containing waste produced by permanent magnets as the waste produced in the manufacturing process of permanent magnets, and can also treat the waste permanent magnets produced by scrapped products as master alloys containing rare earth elements.

This product adopts the continuous casting process of “strip casting”, and finally obtains the rare earth master alloy, which is used to manufacture the permanent magnet, realizing the complete closed-loop permanent magnet recycling process.

Martinez believes that many single mining steps have been avoided, making innovative technology a more effective and environmentally sustainable process. In addition, the “competitive” closed-loop permanent magnet recycling process from waste containing rare earth to new rare earth permanent magnet products has been demonstrated on a pilot scale.

The researchers report that the new technology reduces energy consumption by about 35% compared to China’s primary production.

Martinez is proud of this new milestone. She said that no one had ever been able to show the whole value chain of permanent magnets with rare earth containing waste resources of this scale before. “Our work opens up the possibility of establishing an important value chain in Europe and provides a promising opportunity for rare earth recycling enterprises.”

Post time: Mar-04-2021
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