NdFeB magnets are used in wind turbines and hybrid electric vehicles and are instrumental in progression toward a low-carbon economy. Recycling rare-earth elements (REEs) from NdFeB magnet waste is an important step toward building a sustainable REE supply chain. In this study, we describe an electrochemical process to selectively extract REEs from NdFeB magnet waste at room temperature. First, an electrolysis pretreatment step was performed to convert the elements present in the magnet waste into the respective hydroxides. A dual anode system was used where NdFeB magnet waste was taken as an anode along with an inert anode in an electrochemical reactor. The inert anode was used to ensure that iron in the magnet waste was converted into the Fe(III) form in the mixed hydroxides precipitate. Subsequently, the mixed hydroxides were leached with HCl. More than 97% of REEs and cobalt leached into the solution leaving iron in the residue. REEs were then selectively precipitated as rare-earth oxalates using oxalic acid, which in turn regenerated HCl, resulting in a closed-loop process. Calcination of the rare-earth oxalates yielded rare-earth oxides of high purity (99.2%), which can be used directly for producing rare-earth metals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9375-9382
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2018

    Research areas

  • Closed-loop process, Electrochemical recycling, Metal recovery, Nd-Fe-B magnet, Rare-earth elements

ID: 45736453