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

Award Information
Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
Branch: N/A
Contract: EP-D-13-047
Agency Tracking Number: EP-D-13-047
Amount: $300,000.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2013
Solicitation Year: 2013
Solicitation Topic Code: C
Solicitation Number: N/A
Small Business Information
924 Links Ave., Landisville, PA, 17538-
DUNS: 056771686
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Jinfang Liu
 (717) 898-2294
 jfl@electronenergy.com
Business Contact
 Kathy Hambleton
Phone: (717) 898-2294
Email: kbh@electronenergy.com
Research Institution
N/A
Abstract
Rare earth element (REE) based Nd-Fe-B and Sm-Co permanent 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 generator 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. An electric car like GM’s Chevrolet Volt uses seven pounds of rare-earth magnets, while each clean-energy wind turbine uses more the 600 pounds of neodymiun (Nd). China accounts of 97% of global rare earth element (REE) production and this monopoly creates a strategic vulnerability for the United States and underminesour national security and competitiveness in the defense and clean-energy sectors. Rare earth shortages could also cause major supply-chain problems for US green energy and technology companies. In a typical neodynium-iron-boron (Nd-Fe-B) magnet manufacturing facility, about 20-30% of the magnetsare wasted as scrap, which is an estimated 1500-2500 tons/year. In the case of Sm-Co magnets, about 15-30% of the raw materials are wasted as scrap at a typical Sm-Co manufacturing site. Therefore, the recycling of rare earth based magnets has gained increasing attention and importance in the permanent magnet industry. To date, only very small quantities of rare earth elements (estimated at 1%) have been recycled from pre-consumer magnet scrap. The goal of this project is to develop a scalable, efficient and low-cost manufacturing method to recycle rare earth based magnets from industrialscrap into valuable magnetic alloys and high performance magnets with tailored properties for specific applications.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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