Recycling of NdFeB magnets using nitration, calcination and water leaching for REE recovery

Onal M. A. R., Aktan E., Borra C. R., Blanpain B., Van Gerven T., Guo M.

HYDROMETALLURGY, vol.167, pp.115-123, 2017 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 167
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.hydromet.2016.11.006
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.115-123
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: Yes


NdFeB magnets currently dominate the magnet market. Supply risks of certain rare earth elements (REE), e.g. Nd and Dy, demand efficient recycling options that are applicable to different types and compositions with minimum use of chemicals and energy and with minimum waste generation. In this study, a combined pyro- and hydro metallurgical method is presented that is adjustable to all NdFeB magnets regardless of their composition. After completely transforming powdered samples into a metal nitrate mixture at room temperature for 1 h, a low-temperature (e.g. 200 degrees C) calcination and water leaching treatment resulted in 95-100% extraction efficiencies for Nd, Dy, Pr and Gd. The major impurity Fe (63.9 wt.%) almost completely remained in the resultant residue (e.g. <1% extraction) forming a mixture of hematite and goethite as a useful by-product for related iron industries. Al and Co, representing minor impurities with individually <2 wt%, also mostly remained in the residue (i.e. <40% extraction), thereby enabling the production of a liquid with very high REE purity. Such a solution then can be directly treated with subsequent shortened downstream processes without pre-treatments required for impurity removal. Due to decomposition reactions of impurities (including Fe) during the low-temperature calcination stage (e.g. 200 degrees C), the majority of consumed add (i.e. the only chemical used) is recyclable resulting in a potentially environmentally-friendly and cost-effective flowsheet. (C) 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.