Skip to main content

US researchers win award for rare earths recycling innovation

Researchers at the Critical Materials Institute and Ames Laboratory have won a prestigious prize for inventing a magnet recycling process. Their innovation allows magnets to be dissolved in water-based solutions, thus recovering more than 99% purity rare earth metals.

The US Federal Laboratories Consortium has handed this year’s Notable Technology Development Award to researchers at the Critical Materials Institute and Ames Laboratory in celebration of their new 100% acid-free dissolution rare earth magnet recycling process.

Environmentally sound without sacrificing purity

Scientists Ikenna Nlebedim and Denis Prodius

The technique recovers rare earth materials as well as cobalt. The rare earths have been reused in making new magnets, and the recovered cobalt shows promise for use in making battery cathodes.

‘A unique strength of this technology is that operational hazards and negative environmental impacts associated with acid-based dissolution process are eliminated without sacrificing purity, efficiency and potential economic impact,’ explains Ikenna Nlebedim, the lead investigator for the research. He points out that patents for the process have been filed.

Lessening reliance on imports

 ‘Rare earths are used in industry, defense, and electronics. If they can be obtained through recycling rather than imported from a foreign country, this innovation is worthy of recognition,’ the judges underline.

‘We’re extremely proud of this success, because it demonstrates the effectiveness of the Critical Materials Institute to deliver innovations that lessen our domestic reliance on imported specialty materials,’ acknowledges CMI Director Chris Haase.

Would you like to share any interesting developments or article ideas with us? Don't hesitate to contact us.

You might find this interesting too

Careful consumers will see fewer cars being scrapped
SciAps helping to put the first woman on the Moon

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Your email address will not be published.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 €136 (normal rate is €170) Subscribe
Share your shear stories and win a GoPro!

It’s safe to say that scrap shears are the pillars of the recycling industry. But which configurations are the future? Take part in our tech survey and get a shot at winning a cool GoPro camera!

Thousands of scrap shears are driving recycling businesses all over the world. When it comes to different types, an operator may opt for maximum tonnage or flexibility, such as a mobile set-up. An integrated baling system is also gaining popularity. Ultimately, there is no wrong or right shear; it comes down to how you’re going to use it.

Our survey is meant to map the wants and needs of today’s dynamic recycling industry. Voice your opinion here and, who knows, you may be able to capture your recycling facility in action in HD.