The recycling of rare earths

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The New-RE project

EU countries only have limited primary source of Rare Earths (REEs). Therefore, approximately 98% is currently imported from China.

Aiming to reduce the amount of imported rare earths, New-RE will improve the end-of-life management of the permanent magnets (PMs) in them by ensuring high-quality material recycling.

New-RE recycling is based on hydrometallurgical processes, through which REEs contained in PMs from hard disk drives and electric vehicles and other wastes are leached from acidic organic solutions.

The project consists of several phases: i) optimization of collection and pre-treatment; ii) implementation of a pilot unit of the plant that complements an existing pilot system; iii) production tests to optimize the process and verify the quality of the materials obtained; and iv) industrialization of the solutions.

In parallel, a system for automating the disassembly of PMs contained in electronic products will be developed and tested. The results of the project will be TRL7 technologies validated through a hydrometallurgical process pilot demonstration and a TRL7 dismantling pilot.

The project will offer waste treatment operators the opportunity to extract and recover REE and consolidate their profit margin by playing the role of European suppliers of REE, boron and iron pigments. New-RE will improve the circularity of European REE value, reducing costs, increasing profits, and decreasing environmental impact.

Project work breakdown structure

Lead partner: SWE

The commercialization of New-RE results covers a wide range of potential risks, opportunities, and commercial exploits. This work package will define a business and plan for a commercialization strategy based on data driven insights gathered during the project duration. Furthermore, will contribute to the supply chains mapping and possible alteration/creation for the revenue stimulation.

Lead partner: ERION

This WP analyse qualitatively and quantitatively the current permanent magnets value chain. Also, will seek opening new recycling routes and define new extraction and sorting designs. A detailed plan for expanding the production line will be developed with specifications gathered from prospective customers and available sources.

Lead partner: TREEE

This WP oversees the collection and preparation of materials to be used as input of the New-RE hydrometallurgical process. This Work Package also focuses on the development of automated hard disk’s dismantling solutions.

Lead partner: SWE

WP3 main goal is the configuration of the hydrometallurgical pilot plant. In particular, the existing mobile pilot plant realised in a H2020 concluded project (FENIX) will be implemented with additional parts to test the patented process by UNIVAQ. The New-RE plant will be installed in the Itelyum facility in Ceccano (Italy).

Lead partner: KUL

LCA methodology following the ISO 14040 specifications and using case specific data where possible and relevant will compare the environmental sustainability of the New-RE hydrometallurgical recycling plant to state-of-the-art recycling practices. In addition, sensitivity to background data, such as medium voltage electricity markets, and the production of chemicals will be considered. Furthermore, the economics will be evaluated adopting a LCC approach to guarantee the economic viability of upscaling to TRL 7 by reducing the labour intensity of the dismantling activities, as well as the capital and operational expenses for hydrometallurgical processing.

Lead partner: SWE

The performance of the New-RE pilot will be assessed considering two main aspects: the quality (and consequently their value and their price on the market) of the final products produced (REE-oxalate and/or oxide) and the environmental and economic feasibility (and positive impacts) related to the adoption of the proposed solutions.

Lead partner: Itelyum

Information obtained from other work packages will be used to feed WP6, aiming to define all the industrialization phase. WP3 data will be used to define CAPEX and OPEX, the estimated revenues to realise a business plan. WP4 data will be used to comply with authorization requirements; WP5 will furnish the economic analysis to define the back flow mechanism for EIT RawMaterials.

Lead partner: ERION

The communication and dissemination work package oversees the knowledge transfer of project results, to maximise, boost behavioural change amongst businesses (i.e., promoting the use of more sustainable innovations) and to create synergies with other projects. The target audience will be mainly industrial actors and public authorities, but also citizens to make them aware about the importance of proper waste management.

Lead partner: ERION

WP 8 is fully dedicated to ensuring the smooth and efficient running of the project, achieve the project results within the established timeframe and budget, facilitating the communication flow amongst project partners and between project partners and EIT RM. WP8 establishes decision making procedures and assist the compliance with the administrative and reporting requirements outlined in the agreement between the EIT RM and the project partners.


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Get involved!

This is a call for the stakeholders interested in knowing how the project will evolve and which results will be achieved.

IF YOU ARE: industrial operators in the field of Permanent Magnets, WEEE pre-treatment operators, electric vehicles manufacturers, public authorities, universities, researchers, or interested private citizens…

…you will be invited to project workshops, where you will be updated on project results and involved as an external partner for the collection of relevant feedback.

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