Recycling of rare earths: a critical review

Binnemans, P.T. Jones, B. Blanpain, T. Van Gerven, Y. Yang, A. Walton, M. Buchert
Journal of Cleaner Production 51, 1-22 (2013).
DOI:        http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2012.12.037

Setting the scene for rare-earth recycling, this highly-cited paper provides an overview of the literature on the recycling processes for rare earths, with emphasis on three main applications: permanent magnets, nickel metal hydride batteries and lamp phosphors. The state of the art in preprocessing of End-of-Life materials containing REEs and the final REE recovery is discussed in detail. Both pyrometallurgical and hydrometallurgical routes for REE separation from non-REE elements in the recycled fractions are reviewed. The relevance of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) for REE recycling is emphasized. The review corroborates that, in addition to mitigating the supply risk, REE recycling can reduce the environmental challenges associated with REE mining and processing.

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SOLVOMET is KU Leuven’s Centre for Solvometallurgy. SOLVOMET’s mission is to support its industrial and RTD partners in the conceptual and practical development of more sustainable solvometallurgical separation processes and new mining chemicals, which are subsequently tested using state-of-the-art lab-scale and mini pilot-scale experimental facilities.

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