Project Summary


project-summary

Download the project structure as PDF

Summary

The REEcover projects aims to:

  • Improve European supply of the critical Rare Earth Elements Y, Nd, Tb and Dy
  • Strengthen SME positions in REE production and recovery value chain
  • Innovate and research two different routes for hydro/pyro metallurgical recovery of REEs: as Rare Earth Oxides (REO) or Rare Earth Oxy-Carbides (REOC) in electrolytic reduction
  • Demonstrate and compare viability and potential for these routes on two different types of deposited industrial wastes:
  • tailings from the iron ore industry (high volume but low concentration of REE)
  • magnetic waste material from the WEEE recycling industry (low volume but high concentration REE)

In WP1, LKAB and Indumetal, providing input streams, will collaborate with LTU & NTNU to increase the REE concentration by physical separation, leading to low-grade REE-bearing input streams for WP2&3. In WP2, ChemConserve supported by TUD & TECNALIA aim to hydrometallurgically extract REEs from WP1-input as individual REOs or their mixtures. This is input for LCM in WP4, that with SINTEF &TUD will optimise an industrial fluoride based electrolytic process for production of RE metals and alloys.

Metsol will, supported by TECNALIA, SINTEF & NTNU develop, demonstrate and test a pyro-metallurgical approach for up-concentration of REO and/or conversion to REOC for suitability for electrochemical reduction in WP5, where LCM, Simtec, SINTEF and NTNU will develop RE metals production based on electrolysis from a molten salt using a consumable RE oxycarbide anode. WP6 will characterise and analyse REE containing materials – from ores to alloys. WP7 will assess and develop the integral value chain; WP8 carries out dissemination, knowledge management and exploitation.

Work Package Structure and Methodological Interlinkages

WP1: Physical separation
WP2: Hydrometallurgical upgrading/pre-treatment
WP3: Upgrading of dilute REO streams
WP4: Electrolytic reduction (REO-fluoride)
WP5: Electrolytic reduction (RE-oxycarbide)
WP6: Characterisation (ongoing activity)
WP7: Integral value chain development
WP8: Dissemination and knowledge management


WP1: Physical separation
In WP1 two waste streams will be provided and processes will be developed to increase the REE-concentration in the low-grade REE-bearing output material. LKAB will provide the mining tailings, and together with LTU develop processes to retrieve REE-containing materials from it. Indumetal will be supported by NTNU, LTU and TUD to develop physical separation processes in order to increase the REE concentration and to demagnetise WEEE scrap, as that is a fraction of scrap that has high REE content. The low-grade REE-bearing material from both WP1 waste streams will be fed into WP2 and WP3, as starting materials for the different routes that can be commercialised by the SMEs involved.


WP2: Hydrometallurgical upgrading/pre-treatment
In WP2, the SME ChemConserve will improve its hydrometallurgical route, with support from TECNALIA and TUD by means of knowledge, facilities and capacity, to extract the REEs as individual REOs or their mixtures that will serve as input for WP4. Elemetal will upscale and demonstrate the technology in pilot facilities.


WP3: Upgrading of dilute REO streams
In WP3, the SME Metsol will further develop a pyrometallurgical approach for up-concentration of REO and/or conversion to REOC together with SINTEF, NTNU and TECNALIA, to upgrade the dilute REO stream coming from WP1 from both waste stream types.


WP4: Electrolytic reduction (REO-fluoride)
In WP4 the SME LCM will further optimise an industrial fluoride based electrolytic process for production of RE metals and alloys, and adjust it to the expected material output from WP2 and WP3. LCM will be supported by SINTEF and TUD with specific knowledge on REO fluorides, while the overlap of TUD with WP2 will also give added value to optimise the materials and processes over both process steps.


WP5: Electrolytic reduction (RE-oxycarbide)
Within WP5, LCM will collaborate on an intense knowledge base together with SINTEF and NTNU to develop RE metals production based on electrolysis from a molten salt using a consumable RE oxycarbide anode, based on input from WP3, in order to produce RE-oxycarbides. SIMTEC, an SME with knowledge on modelling of electrolytic processes, will support SINTEF and LCM to optimise the process. Metsol will evaluate and test for techno-economic feasibility, and suitability for electrochemical reduction in WP5. If sufficient potential can be achieved, Metsol can upscale its technology in collaboration with a launching customer that has pilot facilities to demonstrate the process on a larger scale.


WP6: Characterisation (ongoing activity)
As an integral part of understanding in-going raw materials and their variations, as well as process inputs, output and yields, WP6 aims at establishing leading European competence and procedures on characterisation and analysis of REE containing materials – from ores to alloys. TECNALIA will support the WP-leaders with the coordination of characterisation needed for the individual work packages, while maintaining a database with characterisation methods and best practises, in order for all partners to benefit optimally from the characterisation knowledge and expertise present in the consortium.


WP7: Integral value chain development
In WP7, ChemConserve and Boukje.com (BCC) will lead the investigation for new economic opportunities, based on improved resource efficiency, in collaboration with the other companies. In this work package the industrial/SME partners will develop the market uptake from the developed technologies. The existing business models and processes will be evaluated and developed towards more economic gain and better yield in recovery of REEs simultaneously. It is crucial to develop the business model on the optimized integral chain. Moreover, the effects of the developed technology on all aspects (direct/indirect) will be considered and taken up in the value chain assessment.


WP8: Dissemination and knowledge management
In addition, WP8 will look into the challenges with regards to exploitation and dissemination of results. BCC will coordinate the dissemination and exploitation activities and will maintain an IP Directory throughout the duration of the project, in order to make sure that the terms are followed, and to avoid disputes and to facilitate business planning. This document will list all items of knowledge relating to the work of the project (both pre-existing know-how and results developed in the project).