You may have ordered rare earth magnets in the past for a DIY craft, classroom or lab demonstration, or maybe a home organization project, but have you ever looked into where these permanent magnets come from, or how they could potentially be reused?

If you didn’t know, China produces over 90 percent of the earth’s rare earth elements but sets strict limitations and regulations on exporting these metals for rare earth magnet manufacturing. Because of this, researchers have been exploring ways to recycle and repurpose these materials outside of China to make them more accessible and readily available. We’ve covered magnet recycling and repurposing in previous blogs, but if you missed a few, or just want to re-read them, we’re rounding up our favorites to give you a cohesive look about the present (and future) of permanent magnet recycling.

Sources of Recycled Rare Earth Magnets

One way to recycle Neodymium magnets and other rare earth magnets? Extracting them from existing products, such as computer hard drives! This extracting process eliminates the potentially pricy production costs involved with creating the material from scratch, but, it’s still an expensive approach.  also a tricky, drawn-out process.

Previously, recycling these types of magnets was not feasible due to the number of elements used in electronics and the difficulty of separating these elements. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have worked on a more effective method for recycling these rare earth magnets from electronics, which make the process more cost-efficient and quicker.

Uses of Recycled Rare Earth Magnets

We later learned about how researchers were using the recycled rare earth magnets. At the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, researchers found a way to use magnets recovered from used computer hard drives in an axial gap electric motor. Beyond this application, the repurposed magnets could also potentially be used for electric vehicles and industrial machinery.

Recognition for Recycled Rare Earth Magnets

Researchers’ work in magnet recycling and repurposing hasn’t gone unnoticed. In 2018, a team at the Critical Materials Institute (CMI) and Ames Laboratory in Iowa was awarded the 2018 Notable Technology Development Award from the Federal Laboratories Consortium (FLC) for their acid-free dissolution rare earth magnetic recycling process.

Order Your Rare Earth Magnets from Apex Magnets

Recycling is a hot topic today, and finding ways to make magnet recycling an easier and more efficient process, to us, is an attractive pairing! Keep up with our Magnets in the News blog to stay up-to-date on any new discoveries.

From discs and blocks to bars and countersinks, Apex Magnets carries a wide variety of magnets in hundreds of shapes and sizes for your next project. If you aren’t sure which kind you need, use the compare feature of our online catalog to make an informed decision by comparing size, shape, grade, material, housing, pull force, and other important details.