Customer Stories: Recycling Rare Earth Materials will Save Energy and Cost

Several rare earth materials are critical components in modern electronics. A new EU-project is aiming to develop innovative solutions for recycling these rare earth materials, thus providing large energy savings and reducing both production costs and the environmental impact. Acreo Swedish ICT is one of the partners.

The lack of rare, industrial critical metals has been a topic of discussion for many years. Limited and expensive supply has hindered the European electronics and energy industries, so to overcome this problem a consortium was formed. REMANENCE is the name of the EU research program aimed at dramatically increasing the amount of rare earth materials recovered and remanufactured from existing waste streams. The focus is on recycling Neodymium magnets as these contain critical material such as Neodymium, Iron and Boron. Neodymium magnets are used in many products including hard drives, speakers, cell phones, electric motors and generators in wind turbines.

- Our aim is to develop the innovative technologies, business models and market information required to exploit this valuable resource, reducing dependency on primary sources. Advanced sensing and mechanical separation techniques will be developed in combination with innovative processes to recover the rare earth magnets, says Jakob Blomgren, project leader at Acreo Swedish ICT.

REMANENCE brings together European industry and academia across the supply chain; sensing, disassembly, recycling technology and material processing in a multi-disciplinary project. The consortium consists of C-Tech Innovation Ltd, Acreo Swedish ICT, The University of Birmingham, Stena Technoworld AB, Leitat Technological Centre, OptiSort AB, Chalmers Industriteknik, Magneti Ljubljana and Kolektor magnet Technology GmbH. The consortium is led by C-Tech Innovation Ltd. REMANENCE is funded by FP7, the Seventh European Framework Programme for research and technological development, and is expected to run until mid-2016.

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