Rising prices and supply insecurities of industrial raw materials are threats to the production of innovative products and thus the climate goals of the European Union. Hard to replace rare earth elements (REE), which e.g. are used in the production of semiconductors or permanent magnets and therefore also electric motors, are of a particularly great significance. These REEs are mainly imported from the PR China, which, looking at the export restrictions of the present and past, imposes great risks to the supply security of the European industry. The reduction of import dependency in the field of rare earths, for example by creating an intra-European recycling circuit, is therefore in the great interest of the European Union. Research projects have already shown that a closed recycling process in the field of rare earth-based permanent magnets is feasible in principle.
Within the framework of the EU-funded research project REEPRODUCE, 15 research and technology institutions from eight European countries, with the participation of the FAPS, are to enable the economic separation of hard magnetic components starting from various end-of-life (EoL) products. The €10.1 million Horizon Europe program-funded project, led by SINTEF (Norway), will continue to demonstrate the viability of recycling techniques on an industrial scale and investigate the environmental impact of recycling REEs. This will cover the entire value chain starting from EoL products to the production of new permanent magnets. The project contributes to achieving the EU’s ambitious climate targets by 2030, while strengthening the competitiveness of the European industrial raw materials sector.