By Paul Ploumis 14 Aug 2015 Last updated at 10:23:46 GMT
SEATTLE (Scrap Monster): The US Department of Energy’s Critical Materials Institute (CMI) has developed a new technology for rare earth recycling. The membrane solvent extraction system which recovers up to 90% rare earths has been licensed to US Rare Earths, Inc. The technology makes use of a combination of hollow fibre membranes, organic solvents and neutral extracts for recovery process. The technology was invented by Oak Ridge and Idaho National Laboratory.
According to Alex King, Director, CMI, it took only two years to implement the innovative idea, which is much lesser than traditional timeframes taken by similar processes. The close collaboration with industry has helped the Institute partners to transfer the technology in record time. Laboratory tests of the new technology has confirmed high success rate in recovery of pure neodymium, dysprosium and praseodymium from scrap magnets.
The new technology simplifies the rare earth recovery process. It is more cost-effective when compared with traditional precipitation process. Also, the single-step recovery process offers environment-friendly approach. It could be considered as the ideal replacement of earlier environmentally hazardous technologies.
The licensing agreement states that U.S. Rare Earths plans to utilize the technology to recover rare earth elements from old electronics and from its mining claims in the US.
The Critical Materials Institute is a Department of Energy Innovation Hub led by the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory. CMI seeks ways to eliminate and reduce reliance on rare-earth metals and other materials critical to the success of clean energy technologies. CMI is supported by the Advanced Manufacturing Office in DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.