Todayâ€™s blog is on a study conducted last year by Ã–ko-Institut, dealing with permanent magnets used in industry in Baden-WÃ¼rttemberg â€“ one of the federal states in Germany. The project was funded by the Ministry of the Environment, Climate Protection and the Energy Sector of Baden- WÃ¼rttemberg.
Source: Flickr /Creative Commons
Industrial applications of permanent magnets include motors, generators, and applications related to attractive magnetic forces, i.e. magnetic separators in sorting plants, but also to remove metal contamination e.g. during food production and many other industries, and for lifting. The poor availability of data on these types of magnet applications was the motivation for the study. Baden-WÃ¼rttemberg was chosen for the case study since a relatively high percentage of the German manufacturing industry is based there. Permanent magnet use in motors and generators is most important in terms of volumes. Furthermore, their dysprosium content is higher than that of magnets used for attraction purposes. To be more specific, synchronous servomotors are the most important application of permanent magnets in industry. These motors are more energy efficient than their predecessors (three-phase asynchronous motors). Their use has been accelerated by an EU directive on efficiency standards for new electric motors.
In order to investigate the use of permanent magnets in industry in Baden-WÃ¼rttemberg, a bottom-up analysis was conducted, based on a company survey and supported by industry associations. This approach proved to be difficult due to a general lack of knowledge on permanent magnet use in most of the companies surveyed. This is not overly surprising since the magnets are mainly components part of larger equipment and not purchased as stand-alone items. In absence of relevant or rather, sufficiently detailed production statistics, expert interviews were conducted with producers of magnets and motors using permanent magnets as well as industry association representatives. The interviews provided a good understanding of the use and stock distribution of permanent magnets in industry in Germany. The numbers were then extrapolated for Baden-WÃ¼rttemberg. Furthermore, historic and future production data was collected in these interviews, which also allowed an estimation of the future magnet recycling potential.
Source: Ã–ko-Institut, calculations based on information from expert interviews
As shown in the figure above â€“ data here refers to the whole of Germany and motors from industrial applications expected to reach the end of lives – the projected increase in the use of synchronous servomotors and the subsequent accumulation of permanent magnets in use over time means an increase in recycling potential for permanent magnets from industrial applications. However, the actual recycling potential is compromised by the common exports of industrial machinery for reuse abroad – effectively an extension of in-use lifetimes.
Recycling of electric motors in Nanjing, China.
The introduction of a recycling system is complicated by the lack of a collection, sorting and disassembly system, meaning that a reliable feedstock supply is not yet available. In light of the expected increase in recycling potentials, the authors recommend the establishment of those systems by 2030, ideally on a European level in order to enable the collection of sufficiently large quantities. In addition, a mandatory labelling system indicating the presence and types of permanent magnets in industrial machinery is recommended.
Buchert, M., Manhart, A., Sutter, J., 2013. Untersuchung zu Seltenen Erden: Permanentmagnete im industriellen Einsatz in Baden-WÃ¼rttemberg: Ã–ko-Institut e. V., Freiburg, 54 pp. Accessed 16 December 2014.
EU, 2012. Commission Communication in the framework of the implementation of the Commission Regulation (EC) No 640/2009 implementing Directive 2005/32/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council with regard to ecodesign requirements for electric motors, 2 pp. http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:C:2012:394:0020:0021:EN:PDF. Accessed 24 April 2015.
Kuenl, G., 2013. Deutschland politisch: (map listed under creative commons license). https://www.flickr.com/photos/83518068@N02/10067129533/in/photolist-gkAESR.
Stougard. Wikimedia Commons, License: CC-BY-SA-3.0, www.creative-commons.org.