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3 publications for this project

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NCER Grantee Research Project Results

Cost-Effective Rare Earth Element Recycling Process from Industrial Scrap and Discarded Electronic Products to Valuable Magnetic Alloys and Permanent Magnets

EPA Contract Number: EPD12030
Title: Cost-Effective Rare Earth Element Recycling Process from Industrial Scrap and Discarded Electronic Products to Valuable Magnetic Alloys and Permanent Magnets
Investigators: Liu, Jinfang
Small Business: Electron Energy Corporation
EPA Contact: Manager, SBIR Program
Phase: I
Project Period: March 1, 2012 through August 31, 2012
Project Amount: $80,000
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase I (2012)
Research Category: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) , SBIR - Innovation in Manufacturing

Description:

Rare earth element (REE)-based neodymium-iron-boron (Nd-Fe-B) and Sm-Co magnets have been widely used because of their excellent magnetic properties. The applications of Nd-Fe-B and Sm-Co rare earth permanent magnets include hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), power generators for wind turbines, high-performance industrial motors, hard disk drives for computers, travelling wave tubes for satellite communications, headphones and speakers, washing machines, and most consumer electronic devices. Electric cars like GM's Chevrolet Volt use seven pounds of rare-earth magnets, while each clean-energy wind turbine uses more than 600 pounds of neodymium. China accounts for 97 percent of global rare earth element (REE) production and has announced that it is cutting production for the first half of 2011 by 35 percent. The price has increased by 200 to 900 percent while the export quotas from China decreased by 72 percent and export tariffs increased by 15 to 25 percent. The Chinese monopoly in REE markets creates a strategic vulnerability for the United States and undermines our national security and competitiveness in the defense and clean-energy sectors. Rare earth shortages also could cause huge supply-chain problems for U.S. green-energy and technology companies. In a typical Nd-Fe-B magnet manufacturing facility, about 20 to 30 percent of the magnets were wasted as scraps in order to machine them to desired shapes, which is estimated to be about 1500 to 2500 tons per year. In the case of Sm-Co magnets, about 15-30 percent of the raw materials were wasted as scraps in a typical Sm-Co manufacturing site. Hence, rare earth element recovery is on the verge of being the next big thing in electronics recycling. To date, only very small quantities of rare earth elements (estimated at 1%) have been recycled from preconsumer scrap. This proposal presents the least expensive approach to recycle Sm-Co and Nd-Fe-B magnet scraps available from magnet manufacturing sites and from e-waste products such as hard disk drives, air conditioners, washing machines, vacuum cleaners, motor generators, etc. We will develop a process to produce REE magnets from magnet scraps with the required magnetic properties for various applications. The goal of this project is to develop a scalable, low-cost manufacturing method to recycle rare earth elements from industrial sites or discarded electronic products into valuable magnetic alloys and high-performance magnets.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 3 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

Electronics recycling, industrial scrap, magnets, magnetic alloys, neodymium, rare earth element, recycling, SBIR, Nd-Fe-B magnet scraps, Sm-Co magnet scraps, e-waste recycling

Progress and Final Reports:
Final Report

SBIR Phase II:

Cost-effective Rare Earth Element Recycling Process from Industrial Scrap and Discarded Electronic Products to Valuable Magnetic Alloys and Permanent Magnets

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The perspectives, information and conclusions conveyed in research project abstracts, progress reports, final reports, journal abstracts and journal publications convey the viewpoints of the principal investigator and may not represent the views and policies of ORD and EPA. Conclusions drawn by the principal investigators have not been reviewed by the Agency.

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