Entwicklung einer industriell umsetzbaren Recycling-Technologiekette für NdFeB-Magnete (SEMAREC)

 

Project description

Since sintered NdFeB magnets were introduced to the market in the late 1980s, they are used in numerous applications due to their extremely high magnetic energy density. Main applications for NdFeB magnets are gearless wind turbines, synchronous motors (which are used in the field of electromobility), hard disk drives, loudspeakers and magnetic resonance scanners. Beside neodymium, NdFeB magnets also contain other rare earth elements (REEs) like praseodymium, terbium and dysprosium as well as cobalt to improve certain properties such as coercivity and corrosion stability. As the total amount of REEs in NdFeB magnets is about 30 % (from which the most critical REEs terbium and dysprosium account for one third), they represent an important source of secondary raw materials.

Although NdFeB magnets have been on the market for more than three decades and some research projects regarding the recycling of various NdFeB magnet containing waste streams were completed successfully, no industrial recycling has been implemented in Europe. This is, in addition to the lack of incentives for collection and technical problems in the extraction of the magnets, mainly because many recycling approaches only address individual waste streams like hard disk drives, which are currently too small for an economically feasible recycling process.

The joint research project SEMAREC, which is promoted by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), was initiated to solve this problem. The aim of the project is the development of a recycling process for NdFeB containing waste streams both from the field of post-production and post-consumer wastes as well as the subsequent merging of the different streams in a way, that marketable REE and metal concentrates can be produced by hydrometallurgical processes. To achieve this, the project partners will identify and analyze potentially suitable waste streams in a first step. Based on the obtained information, a mechanical recycling process will be developed to produce NdFeB concentrates from relevant waste streams. Subsequently, a hydrometallurgical recycling process for these concentrates will be developed further on the basis of results from the BMBF funded research project “Recycling of components and strategic metals of electric traction drives - MORE (motor recycling)”.

 

In case of a successful project outcome, relevant amounts of the most important REEs neodymium, praseodymium, dysprosium and terbium, that are relevant for many high-performance technologies like electromobility and wind power, will be recovered in Germany for the first time.

Joint partners

  • Electrocycling GmbH
  • Institute of Mineral and Waste Processing, Waste Disposal and Geomechanics, TU Clausthal
  • PPM Pure Metals GmbH

Supported by:

Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung

Support code: 033R142A


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