Rare earth elements (REEs) are used in many applications such as in wind turbines, batteries, as catalysts, strong magnets, and in electric cars. The availability of rare earths is in partial decline. The price of REEs has escalated due to their high demand surpassing the supply. As we have only a few exploitable natural resources for mining rare earths around the world, we will have to rely on recycling the REEs from pre- and postconsumer scraps, mainly from the end-of-life products.
The current research focuses on eco-friendly processes to recover REEs from spent magnets in e-wastes. One such method involves using molten salts at higher temperatures for extracting REEs from the end-of-life products.
This work aims to recover the rare earth elements Nd, Dy, and Pr from Nd–Fe–B magnets found in e-wastes, using magnesium chloride salts heated to temperatures 800°C, 1000°C, and 1200°C for a time period of 12 hours under normal atmospheric conditions.
The reacted products are analyzed using scanning electron microscope (SEM), electron-dispersive spectroscopy (EDS), and ICP-AES (inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy). This work sheds light on the influence of temperature on the recovery rate. The results obtained clearly show that REEs are successfully recovered from the magnets in smaller percentages, the highest recovery is observed at 1200°C (~37%). The low recovery rates are due to the influence of oxygen in the process, forming rare earth oxides, which are highly stable and cannot be processed at these temperatures.