European project SUSMAGPRO

Sustainable Recovery, Reprocessing and Reuse of Rare-Earth Magnets in a Circular Economy

Rare-Earth (RE) magnets based upon Neodymium-Iron-Boron (NdFeB, also containing Dysprosium) are used in a wide range of high-tech industries, such as automotive, aerospace, e-mobility, wind power generation, and consumer goods. However in recent years the supply of these materials has come under considerable pressure and Neodymium and Dysprosium are now deemed to be of greatest supply risk for all elements. Europe also imports far more NdFeB magnets than it manufactures (>1,000 tonnes manufactured per annum), which puts its industry in a very vulnerable position.

The aim of SUSMAGPRO is to identify, separate, reprocess and reuse RE-magnets at a pilot scale across Europe, activating a circular economy business model. Instead of dumping this critical resource in landfill sites or exporting are RE-containing waste to other parts of the globe, SUSMAGPRO will use the latest technology to extract the elements from magnets scrap, and will use short-loop routes to re-integrate the metals into new products for the European market. The project will target main applications including automotive rotors, water pumps, loudspeakers and wind turbines.

The project will develop new sensing and robotic sorting lines for the identified end of life (EoL) products, building upon technologies developed in the previous project REMANENCE (EU FP7 research and innovation programme, GA No. 310240). New hydrogen based technologies will be demonstrated at scale for separating and purifying NdFeB powders from the robotically sorted parts and this technology will be duplicated at a second location. The separated powders will be re-manufactured into sintered magnets, injection moulded magnets, metal injection moulded magnets and cast alloys, at 4 different companies across 3 countries, building upon work from the previous project REProMag (EU H2020 research and innovation programme, GA No. 636881). A techno-economic assessment will be performed for each potential recycling route alongside a life cycle assessment of the environmental benefits over primary production.

The project will also initiate important discussions on design for recycling and relevant standardisation topics and will organise knowledge and technology transfer in the frame of trainings. A travelling roadshow in the second half of the project will engage the local population across different European cities to increase awareness about the challenges linked to RE magnets and the solutions proposed by SUSMAGPRO thanks to EU funding. The roadshow will give the opportunity to test and compare products with conventional and SUSMAGPRO magnets.

The project is coordinated by the Institute for Strategic Technology and Precious Metals (STI) at Pforzheim University, Germany. The consortium consists of 19 project partners and one associated partner from nine European countries.

As partner in the project, Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum is

  • supporting research activities and the better dissemination and transfer of research and innovation at European level
  • analysing and developing of exploitation models for the project results
  • responsible for the development and implementation of the awareness raising strategy for challenges addressed by the project among the general public and relevant stakeholders
  • support the consortium leader in the scientific coordination of the project, due to its long experience of European projects

Project duration: 06/2019 - 05/2023

Participating Countries: Austria, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom

Funding: European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 821114

Portrait Sandrine Doretto
Dr. Sandrine Doretto
0721 935191 11
Portrait Maëva Pratlong
Maëva Pratlong
0721 935191 34
Portrait Eva Kopf
Eva Kopf
0721-935191 11