Innovate UK will provide over EUR 2 million in funding to a promising R&D project, namely “Rare Earth Recycling for E-machines” (RaRE). The venture is led by Mkango Resources Ltd. and is hoped to enable the use of recycled magnets in electric cars.
The project relies on a patented process for extracting and demagnetising neodymium iron boron alloy powders from magnets embedded in scrap and redundant equipment. This novel method is called hydrogen processing of magnet scrap (HPMS). It was originally developed by researchers at the University of Birmingham.
Project partners include HyProMag as well as Bentley Motors, Unipart Powertra Applications, Intelligent Lifecycle Solutions, and Advanced Electric Machines Research. Together, these partners will put another EUR 1 million towards the project.
They envision that RaRE will realise an ‘end-to-end supply chain’ for recycled rare earth magnets powering various types of electric vehicles. This means recycled magnets will be built into an ancillary electric motor to ultimately support the development of a commercial ancillary motor suite.
‘We are very excited about this innovative collaboration and the opportunity to scale-up and commercialise the HPMS technology,’ says William Dawes, chief executive of Mkango. He adds that HyProMag will re-process the magnets back into new magnetic materials at pilot scale to demonstrate the quality of material which can be produced in terms of its magnetic behaviour, mechanical performance and corrosion resistance.
Meanwhile, Intelligent Lifecycle Solutions will establish the scrap sorting process to maximise process efficiency and rare earth material volumes. In terms of design, Bentley will come up with a recycling-friendly product specification to reduce the overall complexity of electrical systems in electric vehicles.
Then, Unipart will take this motor design and use it as the core focus for the design of a flexible volume motor assembly line suitable for production volumes of 100 000 units per year.
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