World’s first circular supply chain for recycled rare-earths used for EVs announced

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A collaboration of automotive and technology companies is creating a project to develop the world’s first circular supply chain for recycled rare-earth magnets which can be used in a range of applications, including electric motors.

SCREAM (Secure Critical Rare Earth Magnets for UK) is part-funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) through the Driving the Electric Revolution challenge and includes GKN Automotive, Mkango Rare Earths UK, HyProMag, Bowers & Wilkins, European Metal Recycling, Jaguar Land Rover and the University of Birmingham.

For GKN Automotive, it will re-engineer a state-of-the-art 800v eDrive motor with recycled magnets produced by fellow partners in the consortium to test their performance and suitability in electric motors.

As part of the project, GKN Automotive will test the new motor and magnet performance to verify performance and capability compared with virgin material and the original machine. The work will be undertaken as part of a £3.4m collaborative research and development project across the automotive, technology, and recycling industries.

The reuse of rare earth magnets in future electric motors will enable GKN Automotive to improve product sustainability by reducing embedded emissions and the use of raw materials, as well as lowering production costs.

Magnets will be recovered from end-of-life vehicles, robots, separators and loudspeakers, and processed by Mkango and HyProMag in the UK before evaluation by GKN Automotive, Jaguar Land Rover and Bowers & Wilkins for product sustainability. Recycled magnets will be assessed for their magnetic, corrosion and mechanical performance and tested in a variety of applications. The development and test procedures will accurately reflect any differences in magnetic and mechanical performance between recycled magnets and virgin equivalents, using the world-class electric motor design, build and test capabilities at the GKN Automotive Innovation Centre in Abingdon.

Gordon Day, managing director at the GKN Automotive Innovation Centre, said: “This leading research project, which brings together key industry leaders across multiple sectors, is vital to ensuring a secure and sustainable supply chain for next-generation electric powertrains. Rare earth magnets are a key component of electric motors and developing a robust solution for recovering and reusing them will help us reduce our environmental impact in the future.”

As well as developing a new supply line of magnets for businesses in the UK, the project aims to reduce magnet production cost by 10%, as well as significantly lower the environmental impact of the materials. Short loop magnet recycling is forecast to require an estimated 88% less energy versus existing magnet production. Pilot recycling and waste recovery plants will also be established as part of the project.

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