Head of Department Magnetic Materials Fraunhofer IWKS
The current ongoing change in the mobility sector is accompanied by a change in materials needed for new products like large-format batteries and permanent magnets in electric motors. Those devices are the heart of modern electric vehicles and thus key technologies for the European automotive industry. Batteries and motors contain valuable and, in some cases, critical resources such as rare earth elements (neodymium, dysprosium), cobalt, lithium, and copper, which mostly have to be imported from countries outside the EU. The mining of these elements is intense in energy and chemical consumption, further they also contain substances that would endanger our environment and health if disposed of improperly. Effective recycling of end-of life products is therefore of great relevance from both an economic and an ecologic point of view.
There is an ever-growing demand for the benchmark high performance Nd-Fe-B magnets. The increase in electromobility, wind energy, and other smart magnet usages in the future has yet to have its impact on the rare earth market. We present a material-to-material recycling approach, which maintains the magnet alloys and uses them directly for a new magnet production loop. The recycled magnets show a low environmental footprint and compete well with those made from primary materials in terms of magnetic properties and cost.
The demand for Cobalt and Lithium is growing as well due to the increasing need of batteries for electromobility, electric floor vehicles, and power tools. Currently, the elements for battery materials are obtained almost exclusively through extraction from natural sources. In the presentation we show the possibilities for a circular economy. Various recycling processes will be shown and we present a highly material selective method for an efficient recovery of battery materials.
Next to the detailed insight in the different recycling technologies, we will highlight a multi property assessment tool for generating high value at the products end-of-life.