Electric vehicle circular supply chain for recycled rare earth magnets

A collaboration of automotive and technology companies is developing the world’s first circular supply chain for recycled rare earth magnets, which can be used in electric vehicle production.

The SCREAM project (The Secure Critical Rare Earth Magnets for the UK) is generating the next steps to create the first ever sustainable, circular supply chain for recycling rare earth magnets. It intends to reduce reliance on environmentally damaging rare-earth mining and to improve resource security.

SCREAM brings together a consortium including EMR, Jaguar Land Rover, MKango, GKN Automotive, HyProMag, Bowers& Wilkins, and the University of Birmingham. This project is part funded by the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) through the Driving the Electric Revolution challenge.

The SCREAM project builds on an earlier successful project named REAP (Rare-Earth Extraction from Audio Products) project and utilises the Hydrogen Processing of Magnet Scrap (HPMS) technology that was developed by HyProMag.

The work will be conducted as part of a £3.4m collaborative research and development project across the automotive, technology, and recycling industries.

Recycled rare earth magnets

Powerful neodymium (NdFeB) magnets are essential as a component in a wide range of modern technologies. This includes electric vehicles (EVs), audio speakers and electric drive units (EDUs) that power EVs. However, extracting the necessary critical raw materials required for the NdFeB magnets from the ground is carbon intensive, having a negative impact on local biodiversity.

As a result, the reuse of rare earth magnets in future EVs will enable the industry to improve product sustainability by reducing carbon emissions and the utilisation of raw materials, as well as lowering production costs.

Magnets will be recovered from end-of-life vehicles, robots, separators, and loudspeakers, and processed by Mkango and HyProMag in the UK before evaluation by GKN Automotive, Jaguar Land Rover, and Bowers & Wilkins for product sustainability.

Testing recycled rare earths for EVs

Recycled rare earth magnets will be assessed for their magnetic, corrosion and mechanical performance and tested in a variety of applications. To do so, EMR’s partner, GKN Automotive Innovation Centre, seeks to re-engineer a state-of-the-art 800v production machine, built with specified recycling magnets created by the consortium at SCREAM.

Additionally, GKN Automotive will test the new motor and magnet performance’s to accurately reflect any differences in magnetic and mechanical performance between the recycled magnets and virgin, unrecycled equivalents. To do this, the world-class electric motor design, build and test capabilities at the GKN Automotive Innovation Centre in Abingdon will be utilised.

“Scream is the next exciting chapter in EMR’s efforts to create a sustainable and circular supply chain for rare earth magnets,” concluded Dr Joseph Eke, Engineering Research and Development Manager at EMR. “Thanks to the innovation and insights we have developed in recent years, we are now closer than ever to ensuring NdFeB magnets are recycled, processed and re-used for the next generation of applications.”

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