CMI Technologies with Reuse and Recycling

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CMI researchers have created many invention disclosures and filed dozens of patent applications. This page lists technologies related to reuse and recycling, which also are on the complete list of CMI invention disclosures. These are available for licensing. For CMI technology transfer, licensing or commercial inquiries, please contact Stacy Joiner at the Ames Laboratory 515-294-5932 or

  • High Throughput Cost Effective Rare Earth Magnets Recycling System
    Patent issued May 2020 #10,643,776Licensed | link to licensing information
    Cost effective, five-step process to recycle rare earth (RE) magnets from computer hard drives (HDs) and potentially other consumer items such as electric motors, power tools, refrigeration compressors and electric generators.
  • Recycle of Fe Nd B Machine Swarf and Magnets
    Patent application filed
    Recycling process for Fe Nd B machine swarf and magnets.
  • Recovering Rare Earth Metals using Bismuth Extractant
    Patent issued June 2019 #10,323,299 | link to licensing information
    This invention involves a liquid metal extraction technique for treating rare earth metal-bearing permanent magnet scrap, waste, and other material to recover at least one of the light rare earth metal(s) and the heavy rare earth metal(s) for reuse in the manufacture of permanent magnets. It can be used to treat a wide variety of binary, ternary, and other rare earth-transition metal alloy compositions. This method can be practiced to recover the light rare earth metal content and the heavy rare earth metal content concurrently in a one-step process or separately and sequentially in a two-step process. Unlike other processes, this method extracts both the light and heavy rare earth metals in a single extraction step. Specifically, the heavy rare earths can be extracted very effectively using this method, which is not feasibly using other liquid metal techniques.
  • Acid-free Dissolution and Separation of Rare-earth Metals
    Patent issued May 2020 #10,648,063link to licensing information
    This invention is a simple, in-expensive and environmentally friendly chemical dissolution method for recycling NdFeB magnets.  This invention has the following advantages:  
    1) Novelty and Purity of the separated lanthanide oxides achieved ~99%.  This purity can be further improved if the materials are subjected to a second separation cycle.
    2) Time efficient: This direct dissolution process requires less time than the current state-of-the-art process.
    3) Environmentally-friendly:  This process limits the need for acids.
    4) Cost effective:  This invention requires and inexpensive salt solution.  The separation process is simple and requires no complex systems or equipment.  It can be easily incorporated into existing manufacturing or separation processes.
  • A Process for the Recovery of Mercury and Rare Earth Elements from Used Fluorescent Lamps
    Patent issued January 2020 #10,533,239 | link to licensing information
    The invention teaches an integrated process to safely separate and remove mercury and rare earth elements from fluorescent light bulbs.  The process does not rely on heating or volatilizing the mercury.  Each step in the process is fully integrated into a single, continuous process that can be run either in batch, semi-batch, or continuous-flow mode for the recovery of mercury and rare earths from fluorescent light bulbs.
  • Separation of Rare Earth Elements Recovered from Scrap Permanent Magnets
    This invention would make possible the separation, recovery and reuse of highly valuable rare earth elements, such as neodymium and dysprosium, from scrap permanent magnets.
  • Low Temperature Electrofining of Rare Earth Element Mixtures
    This technology is for a low temperature (<100°C) electrorefining process for rare earth elements (REEs), via reduction into molten metal, from either recycled or mined REE mixtures. For recycled magnets, a mixture of Pr, Nd, Dy are obtained and the project would specifically target the challenging Pr-Nd separation. For mining applications there are numerous possible applications, particularly because a high separation factor could be achieved.
  • Electrochemically Driven Dissolution of Rare Earth Magnets
    An electrochemically driven process which eliminates need to add acid for dissolution of magnets. This application would be used for recycling of rare earth magnets, where rare earth elements are bound in the metallic structure of the magnet alloy. By weight the rare earth elements are about 35 percent of the composition. Typical dissolution procedures involve adding acid to perform the dissolution. The approach described here largely eliminates acid use, where an electrochemical reaction creates the dissolution environment.
  • Automated Recovery of Rare Earth Permanent Magnets from Electric Machines
    Patent application filed
    This invention describes a method for economic dismantlement of electric machines and other apparatus to recover critical rare earth elements and other value streams such as copper, printed circuit boards, aluminum, steels, wire, etc. This process ingests entire electric machines and dismantles them down to individual, separated value streams. The proposition is to automate the disassembly process for many types of electric machines by human-robot collaboration. The collaboration allows for rapid extraction of critical REEs by taking advantage of both human and robotic skill sets.
  • Engineered Microbes for Rare Earth Element Adsorption
    Engineered bacterial strains of Caulobacter crescentus and Escherichia coli, that express lanthanide binding tag (LBT) on cell surface proteins, showed enhanced ability to sequester rare earth elements through bio-absorption.
  • Preferential Degradation
    The preferential degradation process takes advantage of the grinding behavior of different materials in heterogenous shredder output to produce a rare earth concentrate from magnet containing devices.
  • Reductive Leaching of Metals from Li-ion Battery Electrodes
    Patent application filed
    A method to effectively leach the metal components from Li-ion battery electrodes at room temperature in short reaction times. A reductant is used to reduce the highly insoluble Co(III), and all metal species are solubilized in a dilute acid solution. This method has been extended to an electrochemical process that minimizes the amount of reducing agent needed and provides an inexpensive and scalable process for the initial stage of valuable metals recovery from lithium ion batteries.
  • Chemical Formulation to Leach Palladium Bearing Materials
    Patent application filed
    Method can operate at room temperature and shows rates that are similar to those performed at much higher temperatures to recover palladium from catalysts and electronic devices.
  • High Temperature Al Alloys Containing Recycled Rare Earth Metals
    Method to synthesize high performance Al-based alloys (e.g., excellent elevated temperature mechanical behavior) using recycled rare earths extracted from scrap material. Provides a low-cost method to control the structure and properties of Al-based alloys through the addition of RE elements.