MagREEsource, a 2020 spin-off of the CNRS-Institut Néel that is commercializing processes for recycling rare-earth magnets and then remanufacturing new magnets from the recycled powders, has secured €5 million in financing and has opened its first pilot facility in Grenoble, with a capacity of 50 tons by 2023.
This first 50-ton-per-year industrial pilot will be operational in the second half of 2023 and will manufacture high-performance sintered magnets from recycled material, using MagREEsource’s patented hydrogen technology.
An R&D team next to the production site will keep developing 4D magnets printed by additive manufacturing.
China currently accounts for 95% of neodymium production and 85% of permanent magnet production based on rare earths. Yet demand is exploding: the first agreement resulting from the European Commission’s Fit for 55 program requires 100% electric cars in Europe by 2035, and the REPowerEU plan, in line with the Green Deal, is further accelerating the deployment of renewable energies, particularly wind power, with additional investments of €210 billion by 2027.
Faced with such growth, the mining of rare earths worldwide will not be sufficient, leading to an increase in production costs, or even a shortage of magnets before 2030.
In order to guarantee its own supply and the strategic autonomy of European manufacturers, MagREEsource has developed an innovative and clean technology for recycling end-of-life magnets with hydrogen, in order to recover a powder that can be directly reused for the manufacture of new magnets with a carbon footprint reduced by 91% compared to those produced by Chinese mining extraction.
MagREEsource brings triple competence in metallurgy, magnetics and deeptech. This has resulted in a first patent on the hydrogen recycling process and another patent on 4D magnets by additive manufacturing. A step further than Near Net Shape sintering, Additive manufacturing reduces the amount of material required to produce a magnet, improves reactivity and allows for complex shapes with an optimized magnetic architecture.