NdFeB Permanent Magnet Recycling Through Liquid Metal Extraction

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Pribble, Anthony
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Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering
The Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering teaches the design, analysis, and improvement of the systems and processes in manufacturing, consulting, and service industries by application of the principles of engineering. The Department of General Engineering was formed in 1929. In 1956 its name changed to Department of Industrial Engineering. In 1989 its name changed to the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering.
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The Symposium provides undergraduates from all academic disciplines with an opportunity to share their research with the university community and other guests through conference-style oral presentations. The Symposium represents part of a larger effort of Iowa State University to enhance, support, and celebrate undergraduate research activity.

Though coordinated by the University Honors Program, all undergraduate students are eligible and encouraged to participate in the Symposium. Undergraduates conducting research but not yet ready to present their work are encouraged to attend the Symposium to learn about the presentation process and students not currently involved in research are encouraged to attend the Symposium to learn about the broad range of undergraduate research activities that are taking place at ISU.

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Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering

Rare Earth Elements (REE) are commonly utilized in the aerospace, defense, automotive, electrical, oil, and medical industries. In 2011, China produced 95% of the world's demand of REEs with the majority of their production coming from mining operations. Due to China's overwhelming market share, and the crucial applications in which REE are used, concerns over future supply have been raised. As such, recycling methods for REE need to be developed to help ensure future supply needs are met. Previously conducted research has shown that Neodymium is able to be extracted from NdFeB permanent magnets when placed into a crucible with liquid magnesium. From this, two potential recycling methods were identified. Creation of Mg-RE master alloy, or selective replacement of WE43 and WE54 magnesium alloys. Samples of extracted Nd are being produced in an Argon backfilled environment with varying sized scrap to determine the effect on the REE diffusion constants. Future tests and analysis will include producing test samples of new WE43 to be subjected to mechanical testing. In addition, an economic analysis will be conducted to assess the viability of the alloy.