Last 3rd of June 2016 Lurederra attended to the World Environmental Day celebrated in Pamplona. The main objective of the activities is to shown different alternatives of green economy and how is possible to reach a more ecologic economy for Navarra in an individual way. Lurederra published the MAGNETRONIC project within wastes and recycling sector. With this idea, Lurederra exposed samples of material to explain the activities of the project and the typology of products obtained.
Recently, an article about the importance of recycling of NdFeB magnets in the wind industry has been published in the web of daily mail.
The article explain the natural disaster caused, in the mining town of Baiyun Obo, south of Mongolia, by the accumulation of highly toxic and radioactive waste resulting from the extraction and production of rare earths. Such spills are directly accumulated in a lake that is already known today as the most polluting in the world, releasing a huge smell of sulfur and acidity over any parameter.
These materials can be found in the magnets of the wind turbines, engines in electric cars, in tablets and flat-screen TVs, among others. The boom in technology that has increased the value of these lands justifies all those responsible for the business.
In addition, the article mentions the importance of recycling magnets containing these elements, in order to reduce or even eradicate these spills in the near future.
Rare earths (REE) are a group of 17 chemical elements comprising Scandium (Sc-21), Yttrium (Y-39) and the lanthanides: Lanthanum (La-57), Cerium (Ce-58), Praseodymium (Pr-59), Neodymium (Nd-60), Promethium (Pm-61), Samarium (Sm-62), Europium (Eu-63), Gadolinium (Gd-64), Terbium (Tb-65), Dysprosium (Dy-66), Holmium (Ho-67), Erbium (Er-68), Thulium (Tm-69), Ytterbium (Yb-70) and Lutetium (Lu-71). These special metals began to be discovered in the late 18th century, and Promethium was the last one to be discovered, in 1945.
Really, “rare earth elements are neither rare, nor earth”. The term "rare earth" does not refer to the quantity present in the earth's crust, but how complicated is, in some cases, to separate the element from the other minerals that accompany it, since it is very unusual to find rare earths in a pure form. They are grouped together as a family because of their incredible chemical similarities.
Close analogy to the chemical behaviour of rare earth makes their extraction process, and subsequent separation and purification, tedious and complex (in some cases can involve over 1500 steps). Notwithstanding, they are the elements that have become irreplaceable to our world of technology owing to their unique magnetic, phosphorescent, electric and catalytic properties.
The applications of rare earths are very diverse and constantly increasing. Nowadays they are used to produce computer hard disk drives, stereos, catalytic converters, fuel cells, permanent magnets, mobile phones, TV screens, touch screens, wind turbines, solar panels, ceramics or optical materials, among others. Their optical and magnetic properties have made them indispensable for the production of almost all modern equipment.
Although there are numerous rare earth reserves spread around the world, they are extracted from very few mines. In fact, nearly all of the world's rare earth production comes from China, and, specifically, from one deposit, Bayan Obo, located in Inner Mongolia, representing between 40% and 60% of total production. Just how dependent the entire world is on Chinese rare earths became very clear at the end of 2010 when China threatened to restrict supplies. The spike in rare-earth prices was very dramatic - up to 3,000% for some of them. Prices have since fallen back, but the shock was enough to prompt companies begin to explore producing and refining rare earths elsewhere in the world by recovering the production in abandoned mines, as has happened in the US and Australia, or developing new projects such as India, Brazil, Malaysia and Canada.