Acid-free Dissolution Recycling of Rare Earth Elements and Cobalt

Organization: Critical Materials Institute, Ames Laboratory
Year: 2018

Acid-free Dissolution Recycling of Rare Earth Elements and Cobalt is a novel green technology for the recovery of rare earth elements (REEs) and cobalt from waste materials and end-of-life devices. It is low cost and offers clear opportunities for significant revenue generation. REEs and cobalt enable many application areas including computing, lighting, refrigeration, transportation and defense. However, economically viable sources of REEs and cobalt are limited; supply disruptions can threaten manufacturing and economic security. This technology offers an easilydeployable process for recycling REEs and cobalt, reducing reliance on mining. It removes the need for supplies, containment and disposal of hazardous acids, and results in more than 99 percent pure REEs. It has been applied to neodymium and samarium-cobalt magnet with cobalt also being recovered. Applied to e-wastes, the process selectively dissolves magnets, leaving other valuable components for further recycling. Reinsertion into the supply-chain has been demonstrated by using the recycled materials to make new magnets.

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