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Recycling Of Neodymium Iron Boron Magnet Scrap
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  • Description:
    The U.S. Bureau of Mines investigated methods of separating valuable rare-earth materials from Fe in neodymium iron boron (NdFeB) magnet scrap. A selective oxidation treatment of the scrap oxidized the rare-earth portion while leaving elemental Fe. Magnetic and leaching procedures were tried for separating the metallic Fe and rare-earth oxides, but the extremely fine grain size of the oxidized scrap prevented recovery by either technique. The best separation of rare earths from bulk NdFeB magnet scrap was obtained by dissolution with H2S04 followed by precipitation of recyclable rare-earth salts. By precipitating neodymium-alkali sulfate double salts as an intermediate that can be converted to a variety of useful products, many materials-handling and economic disadvantages found with direct precipitation with fluoride or oxalate were avoided. Iron was removed from magnet leach solutions by precipitation as a jarosite, eliminating a major disposal problem. Research was also conducted with contaminated mixed SmCo5 and NdFeB swarf. Using a flotation-leaching technique allows the SmCo5 to concentrate in the froth, while the grinding-medium contaminant sinks and is removed as tailing. The NdFeB is dissolved by H2S04 during the process.

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