France – International chemicals group Solvay is set to open two rare earth recycling facilities in France following an investment totalling more than Euro 15 million (US$ 19 million).
According to the Belgium-based group, it has developed a process for recovering rare earths contained in end-of-life equipment such as low-energy light bulbs, batteries and magnets which, it states, could ‘open up new growth opportunities’.
Starting its rare earth project back in 2007, the chemical group’s focus was initially on low-energy light bulbs which contain no fewer than six rare earths – lanthanum, cerium, terbium, yttrium, europium and gadolinium. According to Solvay, it is now in the position to recycle them while preserving 100% of their functional properties.
‘Used in small quantities, rare earths play the role of ‘vitamins’ vital for the continuing development of new technologies, especially green technologies,’ remarks Du Hua, Director of Solvay’s Rare Earths Systems business unit.
But now global demand for rare earths is growing at more than 6% per year, these elements have become strategic raw materials, he observes. ‘Recycling allows us to develop a new source of supply, and we aim to become the benchmark European player in this area,’ Mr Hua insists.
For more information, visit: www.solvay.com
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