Work Summaries


Target waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) for recycling of rare earth elements (REE) have been defined and selected. Based on the obtained literature data, the commercially viable recycling efforts should be likely to concentrate on recovering REEs from products with high concentrations of valuable REEs,that allow for considerable economies of scale. Priority WEEEs sectors were identified in which recycling have a significant impact on the most critical elements; these are i) Permanent magnets and ii) NiMH batteries. The main REEs mostly contained in these two sectors, and present a market potential, are mainly Nd, Pr, Dy, and Sm, while La, Ce, and Eu in a lesser extent. The methods of collecting and sorting of WEEEs and the necessary infrastructure were reviewed. Test solutions, simulating the composition of products of acid leaching for the two materials (NdFeB and SmCo magnets) were produced and evaluated for development of recycling strategy. In the first year period various advanced adsorbent nanomaterials (ANMs), such as surface functionalized superparamagnetic iron oxide NPs and surface functionalized silica (SiO2) NPs were prepared. Prepared materials were extensively characterized in order to obtain information on morphology, composition and surface characteristics. Coupling agents (bifunctional molecules) which are able to, on one side, graft on the NPs surface and, on the other side, immobilize REE have been identified. The novel adsorbent nanomaterials (ANMs) prepared were tested. So far synthesized amino functionalized magnetic NPs were used for removal of Tb3+from standard aqueous solutions. The adsorbent/adsorbate system was analysed by determining equilibrium mass of adsorbent, appropriate equation of adsorption kinetics (kinetic analysis), the most appropriate adsorption isotherm (analysis of the effect of the adsorbate concentration), the nature of adsorption (thermodynamic analysis). The results are published in scientific paper „Terbium Ion Adsorption from Aqueous Solution by Using Magnetic γ-Fe2O3-NH4OH@SiO2 Nanoparticles Functionalized with Amino Groups” (Materials, April 2019).Approaches to bulk separation of REE were investigated for production of concentrates for further ANMs based separation. Due to the awareness of possible adverse effects of NPs on human health and in the environment, toxicological and ecotoxicological tests of the developed ANMs are being tested on various cells. In the first year period, the project and results were promoted as widely and as effectively as possible to all the relevant stakeholders, scientific publications and media. Project meeting was held to promote mutual cooperation and results implementation. The project webpage was prepared and continuously updated, as well as project logo was construct. 

The project »MetRecycle« is supported by ERA-NET Cofound on Raw Materials (ERA-MIN 2) under Horizon 2020.