The Secure Critical Rare Earth Magnets (SCREAM) project is a £3.4 million UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)-funded project which aims to establish a domestic source of rare earth magnets. As the UK has no sources of primary rare earths, the project will look to establish a steady stream of recycled rare earth magnets to ensure the security of these materials in the UK industry.
Project partners include the University of Birmingham, HyProMag, Bowers & Wilkins, European Metal Recycling, GKN Automotive, Jaguar Land Rover and Mkango Rare Earths UK Ltd.
SCREAM will recover NdFeB magnets from end-of-life components through a variety of techniques, including the Hydrogen Processing of Magnet Scrap process (HPMS). This patented process for extracting and demagnetising NdFeB alloy powders from magnets embedded in scrap was originally developed within the Magnetic Materials Group at the University of Birmingham, UK, and subsequently licenced to HyProMag, also of Birmingham. Researchers from the Birmingham Energy Institute hope to work with SCREAM partners to develop a semi-continuous version of the HPMS process.
Resultant rare earth metals will be processed from the alloys into sintered magnets on a production line at the Tyseley Energy Park in Birmingham. These will then be independently qualified for magnetic, corrosion and mechanical performance, before undergoing testing in a variety of applications including loudspeakers, retaining clips, a magnetic separator and an automotive drive motor.
“As HyProMag moves forward in the manufacturing of recycled magnets, the ability to demonstrate our products in a range of applications with different demands is crucial,” stated Nick Mann, Operations General Manager of HyProMag. “We are delighted to be working with such a talented consortium, to deliver premium products engineered to the highest standards and in doing so forge future relationships. This project will push our magnet making to new levels and prove our ability to offer an alternative to current supply routes.”
Gordon Day, Managing Director, GKN Automotive Innovation Centre, added, “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.”