A new recycling plant will enable the UK to create a circular economy around the magnets and rare metals needed for electric vehicles (EVs) and renewable technology.
UKRI has awarded the University of Birmingham £4.3m to establish the plant, which will be located at Tyseley Energy Park, a research and development facility dedicated to delivering clean energy innovation.
The plant will be able to recycle materials from a variety of magnet-containing waste streams including electric vehicles, audio products, and hard disk drives.
These rare earth magnets are an essential component of thousands of electrical products, from loudspeakers and computer hard drives to wind turbines and electric vehicles.
In recent years the market for these rare metals has been dominated by China, which has large reserves of these materials.
It is hoped that this recycling plant will complete the UK-based supply chain for sintered magnets and enable the UK to develop a circular economy around high-performance motors and magnets that would make a significant contribution to the UK’s net-zero targets on carbon emissions.
Professor Allan Walton, co-director of the Birmingham Centre for Strategic Elements and Critical Materials, who is leading the project, said: ‘This is a huge opportunity for the UK to become a world leader in high-performance magnet recycling.
‘With the expansion of the electric vehicle market, our reliance on these components is going to increase rapidly. Establishing an end to end supply chain will ensure we can not only properly exploit these new technologies, but it will also secure an indigenous supply of these materials whilst significantly reducing the environmental burden of production.’
In related news, researchers to investigate ways to deliver a sustainable source of the rare earth magnets that are needed for electric and hybrid vehicles.
The £2.6m Rare-earth Recycling for E-machines (RaRE) project, which will be conducted by the University of Birmingham and Bentley Motors and has been funded by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) will look at ways to establish the first end-to-end supply chain of recycled rare earth magnets in the UK.
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