Improve recycling of rare earths in electric motors

09.07.2014, 09:17 | Science | Author: idw |

For the recycling of rare earth permanent magnets of modern and highly efficient electric motors viable recycling concepts have to be developed in the coming years. Even the engines of industrial applications are not separately collected and disposed of at the end of life; the potential for the recovery of rare earths, so that no high-end. This gives a survey of several hundred Baden-Württemberg industrial companies and a more advanced study of the Öko-Institut in Order the Ministry of Environment, Climate and Energy Economics Baden-Württemberg.

The elevation of the Öko-Institut revealed a considerable potential for the recycling of rare earths from the important and rapidly expanding industrial application area of ​​the permanent magnets: Thus, European Business in 2012 up to two million electric motors are manufactured with permanent magnets for industrial applications; about half of them in Germany. Of these, about half of the magnets, the approximately 30 Percent Rare earth contain, used here in the land in industrial plants, the other half of the engines exported either directly or as part of machinery and equipment abroad.

Demand for rare earths for high performance magnets increases

Around one fifth of the total funding for rare earths is currently used for the production of high performance magnets, especially in small motors such as in hard drives or optical drives, consumer electronics. Particularly strong growth in the future theAreas of application electric motors for cars, for gearless wind turbines, as well as an important part for electric motors and generators in the industry. Almost the entire promotion of the rare earth element dysprosium example, is used in the manufacture of magnets. This is also reflected in the high price rises: Dysprosium has risen from 150 U.S. dollars per kilogram in 2009 on 660 Dollar in 2013 more expensive.

Exploit recycling potentials

Still, there is the increasingly growing stock of electric motors with permanent magnets in the industry no adequate collection and recycling of its valuable components, that is, the rare earth. Thus, the permanent magnets land after the latest 30 Years in the steel- or copper scrap or disposed of through the municipal waste even. In order for the industry in Germany are already around 35 to 40 Lost tons of neodymium-iron-boron magnets - and the trend for the years 2025/ 2030 rising sharply.

This potential needs to be urgently developed: "Electric motors with rare earth permanent magnets are an important part of the industry in Baden-Württemberg. We have the rare earths in the electric motors in the industry urgently qualified win back ", calls Franz saucer, Minister for the Environment, Climate and energy industry in Baden-Württemberg.

Dr. Matthias Buchert, Project Manager and Head of the Institute infrastructure domain & Companies in the Eco-Institute. "By the time a year 2030 about 100 Tons of neodymium magnets are disposed of, has the infrastructure for the collection, Separation and recycling for scrap magnet stand. "

Finally, the recycling is of great importance for the environment: "The mining of rare earths, with China now leads in many cases to negative effects on the environment", so Buchert further. "Without appropriate countermeasures, for example, lead to the reduction in the deposits, contain almost all radioactive impurities, to high Environmental damage and diseases of workers and residents. "

Background: Data collection in Baden-Württemberg

The Institute has the data needed to evaluate the recycling potential, with the support of the National Association of Baden-Württemberg industry (LVI), the Central Association of the Electrical- and electronics industry (ZVEI) and the Federal Association of German Steel recycling- and waste management companies (BDSV) collected as part of a comprehensive survey of companies in Baden-Württemberg.

Study "investigation on rare earth: Permanent magnets in industrial use in Baden-Württemberg ", Öko-Institut

Presentation "investigation on rare earth: Permanent magnets in industrial use in Baden-Württemberg ", Öko-Institut on the resource efficiency- and circular economy Congress Baden-Württemberg

Ansprechpartner am Öko-Institut:

Dr. Matthias Buchert
Director of the Institute area
Infrastructure & Business
Öko-Institut e.V., Darmstadt Office
Phone: +49 6151 8191-147
E-Mail: m.buchert @

The Institute is one of Europe's leading, independent research- institutions and consultancies for a sustainable future. Since its inception in 1977 developed the Institute basics and strategies, as the vision of sustainable development globally, can be implemented nationally and locally. The Institute has locations in Freiburg, Darmstadt and Berlin represented.

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