Adamas Intelligence: cerium, lanthanum, terbium and recycling can help fill the magnet rare earth gap

As magnet rare earth prices rise and supplies become increasingly scarce through the second half of the decade, cerium, lanthanum and terbium will help fill the gap, according to Adamas Intelligence, Green Car Congress reports.

As Adamas details in a new report, over the past decade, there have been numerous studies demonstrating the potential to replace a portion of the neodymium or didymium used in sintered NdFeB alloys with globally abundant cerium and/or lanthanum while still maintaining modest magnetic properties suitable for low performance applications, such as loudspeakers.

Similarly, bonded NdFeB powder industry leader, Neo Performance Materials Inc., Toronto, Canada, has developed a family of high-temperature powder grades in which up to 70% of the neodymium contents have been substituted with cerium.

In the years ahead, Adamas expects adoption of cerium- and/or lanthanum-bearing NdFeB magnets to increase as the variety of alloys, powders and end-use applications continues to expand.

As magnet rare earth prices rise and supplies become increasingly scarce through the second half of the decade, Adamas projects that adoption of cerium- and/or lanthanum-bearing NdFeB magnets will accelerate, helping to partially offset the market’s growing under-supply of neodymium and/or didymium oxide.

Similarly, in the years ahead Adamas expects that terbium will be used more and more by manufacturers of high-temperature-performance NdFeB alloys as a substitute for increasingly scarce dysprosium. From 2023 onward we project that terbium inventories will be used to offset under-supply of dysprosium, however, by 2026 we forecast that industry inventories will be depleted, making both dysprosium and terbium a major constraint on global production of high-temperature-performance NdFeB alloys through the second half of the decade and beyond.

A greater global effort to recover and recycle magnet rare earths from end-of-life devices can also play a meaningful role in helping to satisfy demand in the years ahead, Adamas points out.

For example, Adamas projects that in 2030 alone, upwards of 90,000 tonnes of NdFeB magnets will be entering waste streams globally; 4,500 tonnes from end-of-life wind turbine generators, 4,500 tonnes from end-of-life EV traction motors, 35,000 tonnes from end-of-life consumer electronics, 10,000 tonnes from end-of-life consumer appliances, 10,000 tonnes from end-of-life cordless powertools and upwards of 35,000 tonnes more from a long list of other end uses and applications.

If just 5 to 10% of the NdFeB magnets entering waste streams globally each year by 2030 could be viably recovered and recycled it would make a substantial contribution to global supply.

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