Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New CMI Process Recycles Valuable Rare Earth Metals From Old Electronics

05.03.2015

Scientists at the Critical Materials Institute have developed a two-step recovery process that makes recycling rare-earth metals easier and more cost-effective.

Rare-earth metals are valuable ingredients in a variety of modern technologies and are found in cell phones, hard disk drives in computers, and other consumer electronics, which are frequently discarded for newer and more up-to-date versions.


U.S. Dept. of Energy's Ames Laboratory

Scientists at the Critical Materials Institute at Ames Laboratory have developed a new process to recycle rare earth metals easier and cheaper. Here, magnesium is melted with rare-earth magnet scrap in an induction furnace.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. consumers disposed of 3.4 million tons of electronics waste in 2012. Continuously increasing global demand for new consumer electronics in turn drives demand for rare-earth metals, which are difficult and costly to mine.

But recycling rare earths isn’t necessarily any easier.

“Recycling rare-earth metals out of consumer waste is problematic, and there are multiple obstacles in the entire chain from manufacturing to collection infrastructure to sorting and processing,” said CMI scientist Ryan Ott. “We’re looking at ways to make the processing part of that chain—removing the rare-earths from scrap magnet material—better.”

Building upon previous research work done at the Ames Laboratory, Ott and his research group have developed a two-stage liquid metal extraction process that uses differences between the solubility properties of different elements to separate out rare-earth metals.

“Magnesium has good solubility with rare-earths, particularly with neodymium, and poor solubility with the other components of magnets, like iron and boron,” said Ott.

In the liquid extraction method CMI has developed, scrap metals are melted with magnesium. The lighter atomic weight rare earths like neodymium bind with the magnesium and leave the iron scrap and other materials behind. Then the rare earths are recovered from the magnesium through vacuum distillation.

In the second step, another material is used to bind with and extract the heavier atomic weight rare earths, like dysprosium.

Finding the best way to do the second step was the important breakthrough, Ott said.

“Extraction of the heavier rare earths was always the difficulty of this process, and those materials are the most valuable. So finding a way to do that successfully was the key to making it more economically viable as a large-scale recycling method.”

Developing economical recycling methods to reduce waste of rare-earth materials-- which are critical to clean energy technologies like electric vehicles, wind turbines and energy-efficient lighting-- will boost U.S. manufacturing competitiveness and energy security.

For information regarding the licensing of this technology, contact Craig Forney at Iowa State University's Office of Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer, 515-294-9513, ceforney@iastate.edu.

The Critical Materials Institute is a Department of Energy Innovation Hub led by the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory. CMI seeks ways to eliminate and reduce reliance on rare-earth metals and other materials critical to the success of clean energy technologies.

Ames Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science national laboratory operated by Iowa State University. Ames Laboratory creates innovative materials, technologies and energy solutions. We use our expertise, unique capabilities and interdisciplinary collaborations to solve global problems.

Ames Laboratory is supported by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.

Contact Information
Breehan Gerleman Lucchesi
Communications specialist
breehan@ameslab.gov
Phone: 515-294-9750

Breehan Gerleman Lucchesi | newswise

More articles from Process Engineering:

nachricht Harder 3D-printed tools – Researchers from Dresden introduce new process for hardmetal industry
11.10.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Keramische Technologien und Systeme IKTS

nachricht Flying High with VCSEL Heating
04.10.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Lasertechnik ILT

All articles from Process Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

Im Focus: Coping with errors in the quantum age

Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly

The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Massive impact crater from a kilometer-wide iron meteorite discovered in Greenland

15.11.2018 | Earth Sciences

When electric fields make spins swirl

15.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Discovery of a cool super-Earth

15.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>