A new pilot plant is demonstrating a proprietary technology for recycling magnet materials from end-of-life (EOL) products, such as electric motors, automobile parts and hard-disk drives. Developed by Cyclic Materials Inc. (Toronto, Ont., Canada; www.cyclicmaterials.earth), the Mag-Xtract process is said to be the only magnet-recycling technology on the market that can isolate magnets at any cleanliness level from any kind of EOL product at scale. Being agnostic to magnet type is a significant breakthrough, says Cyclic Materials’ CEO Ahmad Ghahreman, because magnet feedstock rarely contains just one type of magnet — typically it is a mixture of four different types of magnetic materials, and each magnetic material comes with many different magnet grades. The Mag-Xtract technology can be combined with Cyclic Materials’ proprietary hydrometallurgical technology to process recycled magnet materials and other manufacturing waste to produce mixed raw materials, including rare-earth oxides and other byproducts that can be repurposed for new applications. According to the company, this is the first magnet-agnostic process ever that can yield mixed rare-earth oxides from recycled products.
In December, the company opened its Mag-Xtract pilot plant in Kingston, Ont., which is designed to process 8,000 tons/yr of magnet-containing products. Initial runs at the plant have processed several tons of feedstock per day. “Last fall, Cyclic Materials also demonstrated the capacity to recycle 10 ton/yr of magnet feedstock and manufacturing waste with its hydrometallurgical technology, which the company is currently scaling,” adds Ghahreman. The first commercial demonstration plant for this technology is slated to launch in the second quarter of 2024. Besides mixed rare-earth oxides and copper, which are the main products, the recycling technologies can also produce several other products, including aluminum, steel, cobalt and nickel hydroxides and boron.
“Future company plans involve creating integrated plants using Mag-Xtract to process magnet-containing feedstock for a central hydrometallurgical processing plant, which will take in recycled magnet feedstock and manufacturing waste to produce many valuable raw materials,” says Ghahreman.