Room Temperature Electrorefining of Critical Metals from End-of-Life Permanent Magnets

V. Murugesan
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory,
United States

Keywords: electrorefining, rare earth element, recycling magnets, metal manufacturing


Permanent magnets, such as NdFeB magnet are widely used in clean energy technologies, contain over 30wt% of rare-earth elements (REE). Despite being readily available resource there is no large scale recovery processes are currently established. The primary reasons are technological and economical challenges associated with separation and refining of REE from complex products. We have developed a one-pot electrorefining methodology that selectively dissolves REE from end-of-life magnets and concurrently deposit as metallic alloys. This electrochemical process represents a simplistic, scalable, and room temperature process that eliminate the traditional chemical and thermal pretreatment of magnets and yields high quality metallic alloys of lanthanides. The refined alloys can be directly used as feedstock in production of REE based products and thereby enable a domestic circular supply chain economy.