• 4 minutes Pompeo: Aramco Attacks Are An "Act Of War" By Iran
  • 7 minutes Who Really Benefits From The "Iran Attacked Saudi Arabia" Narrative?
  • 11 minutes Trump Will Win In 2020
  • 15 minutes Experts review Saudi damage photos. Say Said is need to do a lot of explaining.
  • 17 hours Ethanol is the SAVIOR of the Oil Industry, Convenience Store Industry, Automotive Supply Chain Industry and Much More!
  • 1 hour Ethanol, the Perfect Home Remedy for A Saudi Oil Fever
  • 1 hour Pepe Escobar: “How The Houthis Overturned The Chessboard”
  • 17 hours Instagram Now Banning Photos Of People At Gun Ranges, Claiming They Promote "Violence"
  • 11 hours Let's shut down dissent like The Conversation in Australia
  • 23 hours Famous Manufacturer of Anti-Ethanol Additives Proves Ethanol's Safety and Benefits
  • 1 day Collateral Damage: Saudi Disruption Leaves Canada's Biggest Refinery Vulnerable
  • 2 hours Democrats and Gun Views
  • 8 hours US and China are already in a full economic war and this battle for global hegemony is a little bit frightening
  • 1 day Iran in the world market
  • 1 day Trump Accidentally Discusses Technology Used In The Border Wall
  • 1 day One of the fire satellite pictures showed what look like the fire hit outside the main oil complex. Like it hit storage or pipeline facility. Not big deal.
Alt Text

Investors Return To Plowing Money Into Commodities

Commodities are trending once again…

Alt Text

Vanadium Spikes On New Chinese Regulations

A new regulatory measure in…

Alt Text

Chinese Rare Earth Exports Tumble As Trade War Accelerates

China, the world’s largest producer…

Brian Westenhaus

Brian Westenhaus

Brian is the editor of the popular energy technology site New Energy and Fuel. The site’s mission is to inform, stimulate, amuse and abuse the…

More Info

Premium Content

Recycling Magnets to Extract the Rare Earth Metals

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory is working to more effectively remove the neodymium, a rare earth element, from the mix of other materials in a magnet.  The initial results show the recycled material maintains the properties that made rare-earth magnets useful in the first use.

The potential is important because rare earth prices increased ten-fold between 2009 and 2011 and supplies, primarily in China, are in question due to quotas for China’s internal use.

This makes rare earth elements a recycling priority.  So far the process hasn’t been especially useful, but the Ames Lab is showing the recycling process can be improved.

Rare Earth metal Recycling Furnace
Ames Lab Rare Earth Recycling Furnace.

The newest Ames Lab research builds on decades of rare-earth processing experience.  In the 1990s when rare earth prices were low, Ames Lab scientists developed a process that used molten magnesium to remove rare earths from neodymium-iron-boron magnet scrap. Back then the goal was to produce a mixture of magnesium and neodymium because the neodymium added important strength to the alloy, rather than separate out the high-purity rare earths.

Related Article: Are Rare Earth Metal Prices About To Rise?

Ryan Ott, the Ames Laboratory scientist leading the research gives some overview with, “Now the goal is to make new magnet alloys from recycled rare earths. And we want those new alloys to be similar to alloys made from unprocessed rare-earth materials. It appears that the processing technique works well. It effectively removes rare earths from commercial magnets.”

Ott continues the narrative on the process, “We start with sintered, uncoated magnets that contain three rare earths: neodymium, praseodymium and dysprosium. Then we break up the magnets in an automated mortar and pestle until the pieces are 2-4 millimeters long.”

Next, the tiny magnet pieces go into a mesh screen box, which is placed in a stainless-steel crucible. Technicians then add chunks of solid magnesium.  A radio frequency furnace heats the material. The magnesium begins to melt, while the magnet chunks remain solid.

“What happens then is that all three rare earths leave the magnetic material by diffusion and enter the molten magnesium,” said Ott. “The iron and boron that made up the original magnet are left behind.”

The molten magnesium and rare-earth mixture is cast into an ingot and cooled. Then they boil off the magnesium, leaving just the rare earth materials behind.

Ott continues, “We’ve found that the properties of the recycled rare earths compare very favorably to ones from unprocessed materials. We’re continuing to identify the ideal processing conditions.”
The next step is optimizing the extraction process. Then the team plans to demonstrate it on a larger scale.

“We want to help bridge the gap between the fundamental science and using this science in manufacturing,” said Ott. “And Ames Lab can process big enough amounts of material to show that our rare-earth recycling process works on a large scale.”

The idea is a superlative one.  The rare earth elements are called rare because they are found in small amounts in very few places and other resources are difficult to reach.  Research will reduce the amounts needed, but a future with electrification reaching further into more jobs is going to need the rare earths in greater supply.

This is important work well worth the attention and further funding.

By. Brian Westenhaus

Source: Recycling Magnets for the Rare Earth Elements




Download The Free Oilprice App Today

Back to homepage



Leave a comment

Leave a comment




Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News
Download on the App Store Get it on Google Play