New Mg–REEs alloys developed within the EU Remaghic project

The EU Horizon 2020 Remaghic project on “New Recovery Processes to produce Rare Earth -Magnesium Alloys of High Performance and Low Cost” has come to an end. The key results obtained in this Innovation Action project are summarised by Blanca Araujo Perez (CIDAUT, Spain) and Dr. Federica Forte (KU Leuven, Belgium) in a high-profile interview in the Journal Impact. Impact is a series of leading, high-quality science reports that  enables the communication of research impact in a format and language that diverse stakeholders will understand.  (PTJ, 24/10/2018)

Read the interview about Remaghic

Image Remaghic in Impact JournalThe Remaghic project, the work of a consortium of leading universities, research institutions and private companies, seeks to develop new recovery processes to produce high-performance, low-cost rare earth-magnesium alloys. In this interview you can read about the main results obtained in this 3-year project. You can download the interview here.

About Remaghic

Remaghic is a 3-year EU Horizon 2020 project focused on the development of new Mg-REEs alloys of improved mechanical properties and reduced price. In WP1, new techniques have been developed for the recovery of REEs (Y, La and Ce) from several waste streams (namely lamp phosphors, CRT phosphors and NiMH batteries).

These techniques are based on low-mid temperature processes (HydroWEEE process, iono- and solvometallurgical methods) and high-temperature processes (roasting and pyrometallurgical methods). New processes have been also developed for the recycling of magnesium from scrap and scum within WP2.

The achieved results fed WP3, focused on the alloying process between Mg and REEs, while WP4 targeted the industrial scaling to ensure that the methodologies developed in the previous WPs can be used to produce industrially viable quantities of materials.

Finally, a detailed Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study was  performed in WP5 in order to determine the most cost-effective option for recovering and alloying magnesium and REEs and to quantify the economic and environmental benefits of the overall process. The project will contribute to reduce the dependency of the supply of critical elements (REEs and Mg) on sources exterior to the EU and to partially mitigate the Balance Problem, by offering new applications for those REEs which are usually stockpiled (such as La and Ce).


Blanca Araujo is a senior industrial engineer and a Lean Project Manager. Blanca has more than 10 years of experience in material modelling and simulation. In the last eight years she has worked as project and innovation manager. She has worked in product design and component development for several OEMs and Tier1 within the transport industry. As Project Manager, she has managed research and development projects related to material development, manufacturing and product development projects. She is Remaghic project coordinator.

Photo Federica ForteFederica Forte is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Chemistry at KU Leuven, Belgium. Her main interests are in the field of hydrometallurgy, ionometallurgy and solvometallurgy. In particular, she has been involved in the development and optimisation of critical raw material (CRM) recovery processes from several types of residues such as fly ash, WEEE and metallurgical slags.

The Remaghic project has been supported by funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme under grant agreement number 689629.

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Register for the DEMETER Closing Symposium (5-7 Feb’ 2019)

In September 2015 the European Training Network for the Design and Recycling of Rare-Earth Permanent Magnet Motors and Generators in Hybrid and Full Electric Vehicles (in short: ETN DEMETER) was initiated. As the project is near completion, the DEMETER Closing Symposium is organised in Leuven (Belgium) on February 5-7, 2019. The programme features more than 10 keynote lectures by world-leading authorities in the field of rare earths, permanent magnets, electric motors and REE recycling technologies. Registration for this event, which is a co-organisation of DEMETER, SIM² KU Leuven and GloREIA, is now open. (PTJ, 17/10/2018)

Symposium scope

The DEMETER Symposium will deliver a high-quality, interesting and wide-ranging programme on rare-earth permanent-magnet motors and the e-mobility revolution. Over three days the Symposium will cover advances in materials, applications and emerging technologies in the field. The Symposium is based around keynote lectures by international experts from industry, academia and the European Commission, as well as oral presentations by the early-stage researchers from the DEMETER project. The keynote and ESR lectures are clustered in 5 Symposium Sessions:

  • The future of REE permanent magnets (I)
  • The future of REE permanent magnets (II)
  • REE permanent magnet motors and (H)EVs
  • Recycling of REE permanent magnets
  • Are REEs still critical?

Image of DEMETER Policy BriefMoreover, other participants will have the opportunity to present their own work during an Intensified Poster Presentation session. Discussions, conclusions and take home messages will be generated by two panel discussions. These debates will involve distinct stakeholders from industry, academia and the European Commission. They will combine science/technology issues with societal and policy opportunities and barriers. The panel discussions are intended to stimulate a wider socety debate about the transition to a low-carbon mobility system, the requirement of critical metals and the Social License to Operate to mine and/or recycle these metals.

  • Panel discussion 1: REEs and the future of (H)EVs
  • Panel discussion 2: Are REEs still critical? (in close collaboration with GloREIA)


The preliminary programme with the list of confirmed keynote speakers and their lectures can be viewed here. The detailed programme, including the exact timing of the various lectures, will be made available in due time.

Registration is now open

Invited keynote speakers and interested participants can register through the on-line registration form, available through this URL link.

The DEMETER project

DEMETER video winning the MSCA award of 2018Hybrid and Full Electric Vehicles ((H)EVs) are essential for the transition towards sustainable e-mobility. The permanent magnets in motors/generators of (H)EVs are either NdFeB or SmCo magnets, which contain large quantities of rare earths, which are critical metals with the highest supply risk for Europe. As highlighted by the European Rare Earths Competency Network, recycling of rare-earth magnets from (H)EVs should receive top priority. Reclaiming of rare-earth magnet motors/generators used in (H)EVs is a major challenge because the magnets are difficult to remove from the assemblies. The conventional hydrometallurgical routes for the recovery of rare earths from End-of-Life permanent magnets have a high environmental impact due to inefficient use of chemicals, whereas the conventional pyrometallurgical routes for the production of magnet master alloys are energy-inefficient.

DEMETER, the European Training Network for the Design and Recycling of Rare-Earth Permanent Magnet Motors and Generators in Hybrid and Full Electric Vehicles, concurrently develops (1) innovative, environmentally-friendly direct and indirect recycling strategies for the permanent magnets in the motors and generators of (H)EVs that are currently already on the market and (2) Design-for-Reuse solutions for motors and generators in the (H)EVs of the future.

Photo Gwen Bailey winning the MSCA award for disseminationAn intersectoral and interdisciplinary consortium of leading EU universities, research institutes and manufacturers from the automotive and magnet sector trains 15 Early Stage Researchers (ESRs). The research challenges include the development of hydrogen-based grain-refinement technologies to produce nanograin magnets directly from scrap magnets, the recovery of rare earths from SmCo and NdFeB magnets of motors/generators by ionometallurgical methods, and the design of motors/generators with reusable magnets, where the designs are based on 2D and 3D flux paths as well as non-traditional materials.

Want to know more about DEMETER? Watch the award-winning DEMETER video here and/or read the latest DEMETER Policy Brief (on why the EV industry should work together with the producers of REEs) here.

The DEMETER project has received funding from the European Union’s EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020 under Grant Agreement No 67497.




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EU “Raw Materials Week” 2018

Following the success of the Raw Materials Week 2017, the 3rd edition of the EU “Raw Materials Week” will take place from Monday 12-11 to Friday 16-11-2018 in Brussels. It builds on a series of events organised by the European Commission addressing the latest news on raw materials in the EU. It will be a unique opportunity for the raw materials community to discuss and exchange on all relevant issues: policy, technology, international cooperation, framework conditions, knowledge base etc.


The 6th High Level Conference of the European Innovation Partnership on Raw Materials is the main event of the week, taking place on 14 November 2018. The main topic of the conference is “Raw materials for low carbon and circular economy”, covering relevant issues including battery value chain, cascading of woody biomass, secondary raw materials for energy-intensive industries. On 12 November a dedicated event  will take place, focusing on Critical Raw Materials. This events includes EU ETN DEMETER, NEMO and CROCODILE as co-organisers. For more information and registration please follow this link:

Background on EC and Raw Materials

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CRM List EC 2017 (credits image: redrawn by Paul McGuiness)

To address the growing Critical Raw Materials (CRM) concerns, the European Commission launched the European Raw Materials Initiative in 2008. In 2011 the Commission adopted a strategy document which proposes tailored measures to secure and improve access to raw materials for the EU. This strategy is based on a three-pillar approach: (1) fair and sustainable supply of raw materials from international markets, (2) fostering sustainable supply within the EU, (3)  boosting resource efficiency and promoting recycling. Likewise, in 2012-2013 the Commission launched a call for a new EIT KIC in the field of Raw Materials, which eventually led to the erection of EIT RawMaterials. This KIC is the largest and strongest consortium in the raw materials sector worldwide. Its vision is to develop raw materials into a major strength for Europe, while its mission is to boost competitiveness, growth and attractiveness of the European raw materials sector via radical innovation, new educational approaches and guided entrepreneurship. The various EU initiatives mentioned above are all part of the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. They are linked to the “Innovation Union” flagship initiative, which was proposed by the Commission in 2010. This global strategy acknowledges the key importance of smart innovation, covering innovation along the entire supply chain as well as the demand side, including in particular extraction, processing and recycling steps. Likewise, issues such as eco-design, substitution and resource efficiency are to be integrated, as is the case in the EIT RawMaterials strategy.

Gwen Bailey wins 2018 MSCA award for science dissemination

What is the place of the scientist on the big screen? Well, Gwendolyn Bailey, Early Stage Researcher (ESR) at KU Leuven in the EU MSCA-ETN DEMETER project consistently endeavours to communicate science to a broad audience, fow which she has now received the 2018 MSCA award. In addition to her community outreach, Gwendolyn is performing environmental and economic assessments within the DEMETER project. Gwendolyn is an environmentalist from Texas, a steadfastly Republican and climate-change-denying state, thus, she knows better than anyone the challenge of communicating environmental science to a non-scientific community. Thus, she has grown accustomed to speaking about her field, environmentally sustainable materials, and she believes public engagement is necessary to make her work as an environmental scientist accessible. (Leuven, 3/10/2018)

Bill Nye the Science Girl

TBill Nyehis year, Gwendolyn has been honoured with this award on behalf of the DEMETER project’s remarkable collaboration on the DEMETER promotional video. The MSCA award of 2018, which normally requires applicants to submit an essay on detailing their contributions to society, was different this year. This year, researchers were required to send in selfies/videos on the following 3 categories: 1. outreach of a MSCA project; 2. meeting societal challenges and; 3. bridging career paths. The shortlisted videos were shown at the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions beyond 2020 conference and the people’s choice was selected. At the dinner, Gwendolyn was presented the award for the MSCA project outreach.

Ulrike Guerot, Professor of European Policy and Study of Democracy at Danube University Krems was one of the keynote speakers at the conference and her speech can be summarised into two words: arresting and powerful. She touched on the idea of academic excellence and questions whether the aim to instutionalise excellence is over-rated. She states: “Poltics is about choice and not evidence.” She adds “moving things is more important than simply being ‘excellent’.” In addition, she notes that newspaper articles or popular books don’t fit into the criteria for academic promotion… presumably neither would a 2 minute clip on Vimeo. Staying behind walls of dark math, and writing articles that few will read will do nothing to spread real world influence. The work of a scientist is not just to fiddle with a microscope in a lab, but to talk about scientifically sound ideas – in lectures, course discussions, scientific conferences and outreach opportunities such as making a video.

MSCA Award

The Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Awards identify the most promising researchers among those funded so far under the MSCA Programme. The Austrian Ministry was totally right when they profiled Gwendolyn to be one of the most promising researchers in terms of outreach. Since starting her PhD, Gwendolyn has been fascinated with trying to stylistically unpack — in plain language – the many underlying geopolitical, technical, economic and environmental issues when trying to recycle magnets from electric vehicles. Gwendolyn enjoys conveying the main message of the DEMETER project to mass audiences.

DEMETER as a digestible project

DEMETER and EVsOne of the reasons the DEMETER project video is such a success is the production value. The colleagues at Storyrunner did an excellent job in realising a high quality work, complete with easy to interpret graphics and animations. Secondly, the video involves electric mobility, which is a subject that touches the daily life of nearly everyone. Moreover, most people believe that electric vehicles are sustainable forms of transport but our video reveals that this is not entirely the case.

There are a couple of reasons for this: one being that there is not yet a procedure for recycling electric vehicles. Another is that electricity used to power electric vehicles is often coming from ‘dirty’ sources such as fossil fuels; therefore, the environmental burden caused by carbon emissions from vehicles are being shifted. A more detailed analysis can be read in the recently published DEMETER Policy Brief “Why the EV industry must work together with REE producers”, authored by Gwendolyn Bailey and Karel Van Acker (both KU Leuven).

After nearly 3 years of research, the solutions to some of these sustainability problems are unfolding and you can see the results of our project in the sequel (part 2) of our DEMETER video! Stay tuned!

Watch the DEMETER (part 1) video

The video would have not been possible without the help of ESR3 (Martina Orefice) who is also featured and the production staff at Storyrunner ( You can watch the winning video here:  The DEMETER project has received funding from the European Union’s EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020 under Grant Agreement No 674973.

DEMETER video winning the MSCA award of 2018

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Prof. Binnemans wins LeCoq de Boisbaudran award at ICfE-10

Prof. Koen Binnemans (SIM² KU Leuven & Solvomet) was recently given the LeCoq de Boisbaudran award for his “outstanding and long-lasting contribution” in the field of rare earth recycling. The prize was awarded during the tenth International Conference on f-Elements (ICfE-10) that took place on September 3–6, 2018 at the EPFL campus in Lausanne, Switzerland. (SR, Leuven, 1709/2018)

The tenth International Conference on f-Elements, ICfE-10, took place on September 3–6, 2018 at the EPFL campus in Lausanne, Switzerland. This conference focuses on all aspects of rare earths and actinides science: from theory and coordination chemistry to recycling, criticality and applications on bioscience and medicine. Since the year 2000, this conference is also the place where the winner of the LeCoq de Boisbaudran award is announced. This award has been given to scientists who have made “an outstanding and long-lasting contribution to the science and/or technology of the f-elements”.


This year, Professor Koen Binnemans, from KU Leuven in Belgium, has been honored with this award for his remarkable work on rare-earth recycling and solvometallurgy. The award of 2018, which is bestowed triennially, was sponsored by Qiandong Rare Earth Group Co., Ltd, Ganzhou P.R. China. The opening lecture “Solvometallurgy for Rare Earths” was one of the highlights of the programme, on which Professor Binnemans presented the concept of solvometallurgy and inspiring examples of its uses in the recycling of rare earths from different end-of-life products.

ERES Junior Award

18 years ago, during the ICfE conference in Madrid, Professor Binnemans was awarded with the ERES Junior Award for his outstanding achievements in research during his short career. Professor Jean-Claude Bünzli was totally right when he profiled Professor Binnemans to be one of the leading rare earth coordination chemists in the 21st century [1].  In the same way as LeCoq de Boisbaudran was passionate about rare earths, Professor Binnemans has been fascinated with rare earths for more than 20 years and has devoted most of his career to their understanding. From fundamental studies in his early years of research to applicable and innovative ways to recover them in the latest years, Professor Binnemans continues expanding the borders of what is chemically possible.

Binnemans bio

Photo BinnemansProfessor Binnemans is an inorganic chemist, specialised in solvometallurgy and hydrometallurgy. He has developed a core expertise in critical metals and solvent extraction. He is author of 440 papers with a h-index = 63 and more than 18,000 citations. He is an ERC Advanced Grant holder (SOLCRIMET), as well as, the general coordinator of MSCA-ETN REDMUD and DEMETER and partner in the Horizon2020 projects METGROW+, PLATIRUS, NEMO and CROCODILE. Within his academic career, he has been the supervisor of 47 finished PhD theses and he is also the main responsible of the research line Critical Metals in SIM2 KU Leuven. Prof. Binnemans is co-founder of the SOLVOMET industrial service center for solvometallurgy and he is an elected member of the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts.


[1] J.-C. Bunzli, Journal of Alloys and Compounds 323–324 (2001) 1–3. Download here

Lecture Binnemans

Download Lecture Koen Binnemans “Solvometallurgy for Rare Earths” here