Scientific and industrial cooperation

On 27 June 2019, the BRGM (the French geological and mining research office) and SUEZ signed a framework partnership agreement. This 3-year agreement aims to strengthen the scientific and industrial cooperation of the two partners in the fields of water and the environment. The partnership is building on existing alliances across a number of activities. One of the current collaborative projects between BRGM and Suez is Valomag, an upscaling project enabling Permanent Magnet Dismantling and Recycling.

EIT RawMaterials funded 3-year upscaling project Valomag is being led by the CIRSEE, SUEZ’s main expertise and research centre. The project is studying the use of technology to dismantle permanent magnets for recycling in short-loop processes.

Permanent magnets for a clean energy transition

Permanent magnets are directly linked and critical to the energy transition due to their applications in electric motors and wind power. They are indispensable for today’s technology-driven society and essential for the EU to deliver on the Green Deal.

Rare Earth Elements for Neodymium permanent magnets have a substantial risk and a high commercial value. Thus, the recycling of EoL products as Neodymium magnets is a promising route to alleviate the supply risk. Moreover, Life Cycle Assessment studies (LCAs) exist for NdFeB magnets produced from virgin raw materials and for magnets produced using a magnet-to-magnet recycling process. The results show that the recycling process has significantly less environmental impact than production from raw materials.

Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle

The Valomag project proposes to supply a technical solution for permanent magnet disassembly, and for assessing both short loop recycling technologies and the indirect route for REE recovery using hydrometallurgical processes. The project is based on the direct reuse of ferromagnetic alloys.

We are focusing on the dismantling process for magnet-containing End-of-Life products. Currently there is no waste management solution for the extraction of permanent magnets and their recycling.

Virginie Decottignies, Project Coordinator at SUEZ CIRSEE

Value chain integration

The consortium combines key players: the BRGM, the CEA, the CRM Group, Kolektor and Delft and Leiden Universities with their expertise to develop a new value proposal.

It provides an example of value-chain integration between leading recycling industry and research institutes in Europe in order to provide the first solution for answering the increasing demand of the rapidly growing permanent magnets market.

EIT RawMaterials Innovation and Acceleration activities contribute to the Valomag project in order to validate the novel technology and to bring it to the market.