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Bunting kit backs rare earth recycling research

The University of Birmingham has purchased a laboratory-scale roll separator for rare earths as part of its research into the reclamation, reuse and recycling of batteries used in electric vehicles.

As a key part of the project, the School of Metallurgy and Minerals has established a new facility to assess the chemical and physical challenges posed by used car batteries. This includes a battery shredding facility and a range of physical separation equipment.

The researchers work closely with Bunting, a leading UK designer and manufacturer of magnetic separators for recycling and waste industries applications. The team regularly uses the range of laboratory-scale separation equipment at Bunting’s customer experience centre in Redditch, including an electrostatic separator. Magnetic and electrostatic separation provides environmentally friendly mechanical solutions for physical segregation and subsequent recycling.

The new laboratory-scale rare earth roll separator works in conjunction with other separation equipment, enabling the separation of various anode and cathode materials from the shredded battery components. It features a 200mm diameter head pulley on a short conveyor, constructed using high-strength permanent neodymium rare earth magnet rings sandwiched between steel pole pieces.

A vibratory feeder delivers an even, controlled feed of shredded material onto a thin conveyor belt. This belt transports the material into the high-intensity magnetic field of the head pulley, which attracts magnetically susceptible metals and materials, altering their final trajectory and enabling a separation using a strategically placed splitter. For optimum separation, the rare earth roll features a radial magnetic field with the poles running in the same direction as the material flow.

Previously, the University purchased a laboratory-scale metal separation module comprising of a high-strength rare earth drum magnet and eddy current separator.  This focuses on the recovery of non-ferrous metallics.

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