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EMR delivers world’s first circular supply chain for recycled rare-earth magnets

World-leading metal recycler EMR is taking the next step in its efforts to create the first-ever sustainable, circular supply chain for rare earth magnets.


EMR delivers world’s first circular supply chain for recycled rare-earth magnets f one
Dr Joseph Eke, Engineering Research and Development Manager at EMR

Powerful neodymium (NdFeB) magnets are an essential material in a range of modern technologies, from electronic motors and audio speakers to the electric drive units (EDUs) that power the latest electric vehicles. Extracting the raw materials for NdFeB magnets from the ground is both carbon-intensive and has a negative impact on biodiversity.

The Secure Critical Rare Earth Magnets for the UK (SCREAM) project brings together a consortium that includes EMR, Jaguar Land Rover, GKN Automotive, Mkango Rare Earths UK Ltd, HyProMag, Bowers & Wilkins and the University of Birmingham.

EMR is investing £383,000 in the three-year project to create a proof of concept. This will be match-funded by the UK government via UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). 

In addition to enabling EMR to analyse liberation and processing time, and to identify the most efficient sources of NdFeB magnets among recycled materials, SCREAM will also help understand the future market potential of recycled NdFeB magnets, with a view to creating a fully commercial circular supply chain in the future. 

EMR’s partner GKN Automotive Innovation Centre will re-engineer a state of the art 800v production emachine and build it with specified recycled magnets created by the consortium. In addition, GKN Automotive will test the new motor and magnet performance to verify their performance and capability relative to virgin material and the original machine. 

SCREAM builds on an earlier successful project called REAP (Rare-Earth Extraction from Audio products) project and utilises Hydrogen Processing of Magnet Scrap (HPMS) technology developed by HyProMag.

EMR will supply high-quality, recycled NdFeB magnets from its waste stream, using processes including state-of-the-art robotic separation technology to extract material from TV speakers, washing machines and end-of-life vehicles. This valuable material would traditionally have been processed with ferrous metals and lost to the supply chain. The SCREAM project highlights how EMR is using innovation and new technology to further increase the sustainability of the metal recycling industry. 

Dr Joseph Eke, Engineering Research and Development Manager at EMR, said: 

“SCREAM is the next exciting chapter in EMR’s efforts to create a sustainable and circular supply chain for rare-earth magnets. This is valuable material which has previously been lost during the recycling process, but, thanks to the innovation and insights we have developed in recent years, we’re now closer than ever to ensuring NdFeB magnets are recycled, processed and reused for the next generation of applications. 

Whether its mining conflict areas such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – for cobalt – or politically sensitive places such as Russia – for nickel – many rare-earth materials are found in parts of the world where the UK doesn’t have control over their source. As electric vehicles are rolled out in greater numbers, the amount of NdFeB magnets available in the waste stream will increase significantly, so it’s now a race against time to ensure that the industry is able to recover this material efficiently and sustainably.

By working together with the rest of the SCREAM consortium, EMR is ensuring that, in the future, there is a stable and sustainable source for these materials that manufacturers and consumers can rely on.”


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Owain Griffiths

Owain Griffiths

Head of Circular Economy at Volvo Cars

Owain joined Volvo Cars in June 2021 to lead Circular Economy in the Global Sustainability Team. The company has committed to being a circular business by 2040 and has financial, recycled content and CO2 based targets for 2025, all of which Owain is working across the company to make happen. Owain previously worked for circular economy consultancy Oakdene Hollins where he advised businesses on evidence led circular economy implementation. 

Turning into a circular business and the importance of vehicle reuse and recycling.

The presentation will cover the work Volvo Cars is doing to achieve 2025 but mainly focus on the transformational work towards 2040 and the business and value chain changes being considered. Attention will be paid to the way vehicles are being dealt with at the end of life and the complexities of closing material and component loops. Opportunities and challenges which Volvo Cars is facing will be presented including engagement with 3rd parties and increasing pressure from stakeholders.

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e2e Total Loss Vehicle Management [e2e] is the UK’s only salvage and automotive recycling network with nationwide, environmentally compliant sites delivering performance resilience and service reliability to the insurance and fleet markets.  The network’s online salvage auction drives strong salvage resale values and faster sales.  e2e’s salvage clients have access to the network’s stocks of over 5 million quality graded, warranty assured reclaimed parts. 

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