Why it's so important
RarEarth has developed a recycling process capable of valorizing the NdFeB magnets fraction from electric motors of two-wheeled electric vehicles, which is the second biggest market of end-of-life NdFeB permanent magnets in Europe.
Starting from an electric motor at the end of life we are able to recover the copper, alluminum and iron fraction and thanks to our unique technology we are also able to recover the NdFeB permanent magnets alloy which can be used by magnets produces for the production of new magnets.
The rare earths problem
Rare earth elements (REEs) are considered highly critical material for Europe and are listed in the EU’s list of critical raw materials. The main reason is the geographical distribution of the global production, 60% of which is located in China. Nowadays, Europe has no internal production of rare earth elements, even though, some interesting mines are present in the European territory (e.g., Sweden). The situation becomes even worst if the global distribution of refined product is considered. Almost the totality of the global production of rare earth metals is in China.
Key role of recycling
Europe is one of the largest consumer of products containing NdFeB magnets, so, recycling has high potential and could be a greener alternative to mining which has high environmental impact. More than 75% of the European demand of REEs could be satisfied by recycling in 2050.
Nowadays, The global recycling rate of REEs is less than 1% because the current recycling processes applied to NdFeB magnets bearing waste valorize only the iron, alluminum and copper fraction and not the REEs content. For example, electric motors are shredded and mechanically processed to separate the ferrous metals from the non ferrous fraction. During these process NdFeB magnets are dilueted in the ferrous fraction and not recovered.
The second reason is that the most important application of REEs is in NdFeB permanent magnets. NdFeB permanent magnets have a key role in the ecological and digital transition that will take place in the next decades being a key component of the electric motors of the e-mobility, wind turbines and consumer electronics such as computers, mobile phones and loudspeakers. So, the criticality of rare earth elements is likely to increase in the next future. Thus, it is of crucial importance for Europe to find a solution to become less dependent from China in the next few years. The possible solutions are start exploiting the existing mines, finding new sources of rare earth elements, start recycling of rare earths bearing waste.
Unique features of RarEarth recycling process:
Capable of recycling the NdFeB permanent magnets fraction.
800% higher marging revenue than traditional recycling processes used for electric motors.
Greener alternative to mining.