System and method for recycling of rare earth magnets from hard disk drives

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CMI researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory conducted the research for this highlight

Achievement
ORNL patent application, “System and Method for the Recycling of Rare Earth Magnets” has been issued as a patent on rapid rare earth magnet recovery from computer hard disk drives (HDDs). The technology involves orienting the HDDs in the system, cutting off the corner of the HDD that contains the magnet, heat treating the magnet to demagnetize it and decompose the adhesive holding it in, leaving the magnet for subsequent reuse or recycling.

Significance and impact
The high throughput magnet recovery technology described in this patent can recover 100s of metric tons of rare earth magnets while maintaining complete data security and avoiding materials loss through shredding.

Details and Next Steps
Now that the patent has issued, perhaps there will be interest in maturing the technology to commercial scale. ORNL will reach out to potential partners to generate interest in licensing this transformational technology.

System and method for recycling of rare earth magnets from hard disk drives