Skip to main content

UK tackles rare earth challenge for wind turbines

Photo: Shutterstock

Metals recycler EMR is playing a key role in a collaborative research effort to establish the UK’s first circular supply chain for the rare earth magnets used in wind turbines.

The new project, known as Re-Rewind, also involves rare earth recycling pioneers HyProMag, motor and generator manufacturer Magnomatics, the University of Birmingham, and the Government’s innovation unit, the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult. It is funded by the national ‘Innovate UK’ agency.

Modern wind turbines contain high-quality construction steel, copper and other metals as well as a range of rare earth elements such as praseodymium and dysprosium. In particular, the sector uses very large quantities of a rare earth magnet that is an alloy of neodymium, iron and boron (NdFeB). These NdFeB magnets are critical components used in permanent magnet synchronous generators in larger turbines.


With the UK’s rapid transition towards net-zero emissions, it’s predicted that in 2040 there will be a 240 000 tonne shortfall of rare earth magnets. The Re-Rewind project is intended to combat this impending shortage, bolster the UK’s rare earth material security and foster the creation of green jobs.

EMR’s energy infrastructure lead, Dr Charlotte Stamper says the collaborative effort represents a significant step forward in securing the sustainability of wind energy. ‘By establishing a circular supply chain for rare earth magnets, we not only reduce the environmental impact of wind turbine production but also lay the foundation for a greener, more self-sustaining future.’

HyProMag’s operations general manager Nick Mann adds: ‘Thanks to the backing of Innovate UK and our outstanding consortium of project collaborators, we see immense potential. Each company’s unique expertise comes into play to tackle the complex task of extracting magnets from retired wind turbines.

‘This project is set to overcome the obstacles associated with recycling rare earth magnets from wind turbines, effectively opening up a new domestic source of these magnets, which is a significant achievement in itself.’

Don't hesitate to contact us to share your input and ideas. Subscribe to the magazine or (free) newsletter.

You might find this interesting too

Huge scale of copper recycler fraud revealed
Robots are taking over at renamed Dutch metal recycler – who’s next? 
Recycled aircraft parts assessed for 3D printing

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Subscribe now and get a full year for just €169 (normal rate is €225) Subscribe