Nav: Home

New CMI process recycles valuable rare-earth metals from old electronics

February 26, 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.

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.
-end-
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.

DOE/Ames Laboratory

Related Magnesium Articles:

With health care cuts looming, low-cost magnesium a welcome option for treating depression
The cost of depression is great -- 350 million people worldwide suffer from this disorder and costs for traditional SSRI treatments are high.
Study reveals level of magnesium sulfate to prevent cerebral palsy in preterm infants
A new study suggests that to optimize neuroprotection and prevent cerebral palsy in extremely preterm infants, women should receive magnesium sulfate to obtain a blood level between 3.7 and 4.4 mg/dL at the time of delivery.
Energy-efficient green route to magnesium production
Through a collaborative research program funded by Oricon Energy Inc., the research group of Professor Yuji Wada and Adjunct Professor Satoshi Fujii of the Tokyo Institute of Technology, School of Materials and Chemical Technology devised a magnesium smelting method that uses nearly 70 percent less energy than conventional methods by using microwaves.
Refining the ocean's thermometer
The chemistry of shells of plankton called foraminifera are a record of past climate.
Proof that magnesium could prevent fractures
Magnesium could hold the key to preventing one of the most preventable causes of disability in middle-aged to elderly people, according to new research led by academics at the universities of Bristol and Eastern Finland.
Parts of the Earth's original crust remain in place today
Analysis of rock samples harvested from the Canadian Shield suggests the samples contain components of Earth's crust that existed more than 4.2 billion year ago.
Illinois researchers create first exact model for diffusion in magnesium alloys
In order to develop new materials, material engineers need to be able to predict how fast impurity atoms diffuse, or spread, in a crystal over a range of temperatures.
Stabilizing soils with sulfates to improve their constructional properties
Stabilization by means of conventional additives cannot be carried out on soils with sulfates because the calcium in these additives adversely reacts with the sulfate present in the soil.
Dietary magnesium associated with reduced risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes
A diet rich in magnesium may reduce the risk of diseases including coronary heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes according to a new meta-analysis published in the open-access journal BMC Medicine.
Exotic property of salty solutions discovered
Water and aqueous solutions can behave strangely under pressure. Experiments carried out at the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences showed that magnesium sulfate dissolved in water was separated less than expected in magnesium and sulfate ions above a pressure of 0.2 Gigapascal.

Related Magnesium Reading:

The Magnesium Miracle (Second Edition)
by Carolyn Dean M.D. N.D. (Author)

The Magnesium Miracle (Revised and Updated Edition)
by Carolyn Dean (Author)

The Magnesium Solution for High Blood Pressure (The Square One Health Guides)
by Jay S. Cohen (Author)

Magnificent Magnesium: Your Essential Key to a Healthy Heart & More
by Dennis Goodman MD (Author)

Magnesium: What Your Doctor Needs You to Know: Including: How to Fight Diabetes, Have a Healthy Heart, and Get Strong Bones! (Volume 1)
by Nolan Edwards (Author)

Magnesium: The Miracle Mineral
by Sandra Cabot (Author)

The Magnesium Factor: How One Simple Nutrient Can Prevent, Treat, and Reverse High Blood Pressure, Heart Disease, Diabetes, and Other Chronic Conditions
by Mildred Seelig (Author), Andrea Rosanoff (Author)

Magnesium: The Essential Mineral for Improving and Maintaining your Health (Epsom Salt, Natural Health, Health, Diet, Minerals and Vitamins)
by LMHeBooks

Magnesium
by Belides Publishing Group

Best Science Podcasts 2018

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2018. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

The Right To Speak
Should all speech, even the most offensive, be allowed on college campuses? And is hearing from those we deeply disagree with ... worth it? This hour, TED speakers explore the debate over free speech. Guests include recent college graduate Zachary Wood, political scientist Jeffrey Howard, novelist Elif Shafak, and journalist and author James Kirchick.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#486 Volcanoes
This week we're talking volcanoes. Because there are few things that fascinate us more than the amazing, unstoppable power of an erupting volcano. First, Jessica Johnson takes us through the latest activity from the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii to help us understand what's happening with this headline-grabbing volcano. And Janine Krippner joins us to highlight some of the lesser-known volcanoes that can be found in the USA, the different kinds of eruptions we might one day see at them, and how damaging they have the potential to be. Related links: Kilauea status report at USGS A beginner's guide to Hawaii's otherworldly...