Fraunhofer Institute for
Systems and Innovation Research ISI
Within the MORE project (Motor Recycling), Fraunhofer ISI is examining 1. Supply and demand, 2. The material flows and 3. The current recycling of the rare earth metals Nd, Dy, Tb and Pr used in magnets.
In MORE, recycling solutions for electric motors are being worked out by a consortium from industry and research led by Siemens. The main focus is on permanent magnets which have a high proportion of rare earth metals and which are needed for electric and hybrid vehicles. The partners in MORE are looking at the entire length of the value chain from designing and producing the motors through retro logistics right up to their reuse in vehicles in order to develop a solution which can be applied in industry. The project is being funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).
Permanent magnets with a rare earth metal content of approx. 30 percent are needed for compact and lightweight synchronous motors. The demand for rare earths will rise sharply in the next few years – among other reasons due to the diffusion of electric and hybrid vehicles. Because China currently has a monopoly on the supply of rare earths, supply bottlenecks are also to be expected.
In MORE the researchers are following different approaches for recycling electric motors: removing the heavy magnets weighing about one kilogram from end-of-life motors, repairing and subsequently reusing the electric motor or its components, as well as reusing the magnetic materials, raw materials and rare earth metals after they have been recovered from pre-sorted and shredded materials. Furthermore, concepts will be developed for a motor designed to be easier to recycle as well as for ecological efficiency analyses and models of material closed loops. The results of this project should be available by 2014. In the future, applications in other fields in which rare earths also play a key role stand to benefit from the technologies developed in the project, such as wind tur-bines.
May 2011 - April 2014
German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)
Umicore AG & Co. KG
Vacuumschmelze GmbH & Co. KG
Technische Universität Clausthal