01 Feb 2024

How is REEPRODUCE optimising the Advanced Hydrometallurgy for Rare Earth Oxides production?

  • How are you optimising the Advanced Hydrometallurgy for Rare Earth Oxides production?

Tecnalia manages the design and optimisation of the laboratory scale chemical process to extract the rare earths from neodymium magnets and their transformation into high purity rare earth oxides (REO), which will be the input of subsequent high temperature electrolysis process to produce magnet alloys.

The focus of the optimisation of the Advanced Hydrometallurgical process is to achieve a flexible process which can be applied to different chemistries of spent neodymium magnets achieving high REO purities, regardless the source and specific composition of the magnets.

  • What are the main challenges you have faced?

The variability of the input magnet composition and the removal of some impurities which are detrimental for the subsequent electrolysis step are our main challenges.

Additionally, achieving the specific objective of a REE recovery of more than 95% in a process designed in five steps, for which all the steps are expected to have yields close to or higher than 99%, has been demanding.

Tecnalia is addressing such challenges by performing chemical analysis and mass balances during the development of the process and investigating different purification strategies to reach the highest REO purity possible.

  • In the REEPRODUCE project’s context, what is this activity’s goal?

Developing a laboratory scale chemical recovery process able to produce high purity REOs with high efficiency and, at the same time, able to be upscaled and meet the production goals of the REEPRODUCE project. For the latter objectives, Tecnalia is also supporting in addressing the problems that arise in the early stages of scaling up.

  • What are your ambitions in contributing to stimulate a more sustainable Europe raw material value chain?

At Tecnalia, our main driver is developing solutions that can contribute to a more sustainable use of the raw materials, ensuring their circularity as well as their availability for Europe.