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Efficient Recovery of End-of-Life NdFeB Permanent Magnets by Selective Leaching with Deep Eutectic Solvents

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journal contribution
posted on 30.07.2020 by Chuanying Liu, Qibin Yan, Xingwang Zhang, Lecheng Lei, Chengliang Xiao
The NdFeB permanent magnet is a critical material in digital electronics and clean energy industry. Traditional recovery processes based on the solvent extraction technique would consume high energy and large amounts of chemicals as well as resulting in abundant secondary organic wastes. In this work, a green process using deep eutectic solvents (DESs) in the selective leaching technology was designed to recover NdFeB permanent magnets. Nine kinds of DESs composed of guanidine were prepared and screened as the leachants. The guanidine hydrochloride–lactic acid (GUC–LAC) combined DES achieved the highest separation factor (>1300) between neodymium and iron through simple dissolution of their corresponding oxide mixture. The mass concentration of Nd dissolved in the GUC–LAC DES could reach 6.7 × 104 ppm. The viscosity of this type of DES at 50 °C was 36 cP, which was comparable to many common organic solvents. In a practical recovery of roasted magnet powders, the Nd2O3 product with 99% purity was facilely obtained with only one dissolution step, followed by a stripping process with oxalic acid. Even after 3 cycles, the GUC–LAC DES kept the same dissolution property and chemical stability. With such superior performances in selective leaching of rare earth elements from transition metals, the GUC–LAC DES is greatly promising in the rare earth element recovery field.