Lab Spotlight

Ames Laboratory’s Acid-Free Rare-Earth Magnet Recycling

Dept. of Energy

A new acid-free rare-earth magnet recycling process was invented by scientists at the Critical Materials Institute, led by Ames Laboratory. During magnet recycling, products such as electronic waste are dissolved in water-based solutions, allowing the recovery of more than 99-percent pure rare-earth elements that can be used to make new magnets. Additionally, cobalt recovered from cobalt-containing magnet waste shows promise in making battery cathodes.  Patents have been filed for this award-winning technology, which earned a 2018 Notable Technology Development Award from the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer, an R&D 100 Award, and special recognition from the R&D 100 for Outstanding Environmental Innovation.

Ames Laboratory, one of the U.S. Department of Energy’s national laboratories, is recognized the world over for its leading collaborative research in the theory, design, synthesis, processing, and characterization of innovative, energy-relevant materials. Ames leads the Critical Materials Institute, a DOE Energy Innovation Hub focused on technologies that make better use of materials and eliminate the need for materials that are subject to supply disruptions.

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