• 4 minutes Will We Ever See 100$+ OIL?
  • 8 minutes Iran downs US drone. No military response . . Just Destroy their economy. Can Senator Kerry be tried for aiding enemy ?
  • 11 minutes Energy Outlook for Renewables. Pie in the sky or real?
  • 2 hours Iran Loses $130,000,000 Oil Revenue Every Day They Continue Their Games . . . .Opportunity Lost . . . Will Never Get It Back. . . . . LOL .
  • 2 days Iran Captures British Tanker sailing through Straits of Hormuz
  • 2 hours Renewables provided only about 4% of total global energy needs in 2018
  • 3 hours Berkeley becomes first U.S. city to ban natural gas in new homes
  • 21 hours EIA Reports Are Fraudulent : EIA Is Conspiring With Trump To Keep Oil Prices Low
  • 2 days Drone For Drone = War: What is next in the U.S. - Iran the Gulf Episode
  • 3 days Today in Energy
  • 7 hours Shale Oil will it self destruct?
  • 3 hours So You Think We’re Reducing Fossil Fuel? — Think Again
  • 3 hours First limpet mines . . . . now fly a drone at low altitude directly at U.S. Navy ship. Think Iran wanted it taken out ? Maybe ? YES
  • 5 hours N.Y. Governor Signs Climate Bill
  • 1 day Oil Rises After Iran Says It Seized Foreign Tanker In Gulf
  • 13 hours U.S. Administration Moves To End Asylum Protections For Central Americans
Alt Text

Lithium Plunging As Chinese EV Production Slows

China’s electric car subsidy changes,…

Alt Text

As Diesel Dies, One Commodity Is Crashing

Platinum futures plunged to 14…

Alt Text

This Year, Everyone Will Love Uranium

Utilities have been buying uranium…

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