skip to main content
OSTI.GOV title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: Economic assessment for recycling critical metals from hard disk drives using a comprehensive recovery process

Abstract

Since the 2011 price spike of rare earth elements (REEs), research on permanent magnet recycling has blossomed globally to reduce future REE criticality. Hard disk drives (HDDs) have emerged as one feasible feedstock for recovering valuable REEs such as praseodymium, neodymium, and dysprosium. However, current processes for recycling e-waste only focus on certain metals due to feedstock and metal price uncertainties. In addition, some believe that recycling REEs is unprofitable. To shed some light on the economic viability of REE recycling from HDDs, this paper combines techno-economic information of a hydrometallurgical process with end-of-life HDD availability in a simulation model. Results showed that adding REEs to HDD recycling was profitable given current prices. As a result, recovered REEs could meet up to 5.1% rest of world (excluding China) magnet demand. Aluminum, gold, copper scrap and REEs were the primary main revenue streams from HDD recycling.

Authors:
 [1];  [1];  [1];  [1]
  1. Idaho National Lab. (INL), Idaho Falls, ID (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Idaho National Lab. (INL), Idaho Falls, ID (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)
OSTI Identifier:
1363744
Report Number(s):
INL/JOU-17-41436
Journal ID: ISSN 1047-4838; PII: 2399
Grant/Contract Number:
AC07-05ID14517
Resource Type:
Journal Article: Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
JOM. Journal of the Minerals, Metals & Materials Society
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 69; Journal Issue: 9; Journal ID: ISSN 1047-4838
Publisher:
Springer
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
29 ENERGY PLANNING, POLICY, AND ECONOMY; economic viability; HDD recycling; hydrometallurgical process; REE recovery; simulation model

Citation Formats

Nguyen, Ruby Thuy, Diaz, Luis A., Imholte, D. Devin, and Lister, Tedd E. Economic assessment for recycling critical metals from hard disk drives using a comprehensive recovery process. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.1007/s11837-017-2399-2.
Nguyen, Ruby Thuy, Diaz, Luis A., Imholte, D. Devin, & Lister, Tedd E. Economic assessment for recycling critical metals from hard disk drives using a comprehensive recovery process. United States. doi:10.1007/s11837-017-2399-2.
Nguyen, Ruby Thuy, Diaz, Luis A., Imholte, D. Devin, and Lister, Tedd E. 2017. "Economic assessment for recycling critical metals from hard disk drives using a comprehensive recovery process". United States. doi:10.1007/s11837-017-2399-2.
@article{osti_1363744,
title = {Economic assessment for recycling critical metals from hard disk drives using a comprehensive recovery process},
author = {Nguyen, Ruby Thuy and Diaz, Luis A. and Imholte, D. Devin and Lister, Tedd E.},
abstractNote = {Since the 2011 price spike of rare earth elements (REEs), research on permanent magnet recycling has blossomed globally to reduce future REE criticality. Hard disk drives (HDDs) have emerged as one feasible feedstock for recovering valuable REEs such as praseodymium, neodymium, and dysprosium. However, current processes for recycling e-waste only focus on certain metals due to feedstock and metal price uncertainties. In addition, some believe that recycling REEs is unprofitable. To shed some light on the economic viability of REE recycling from HDDs, this paper combines techno-economic information of a hydrometallurgical process with end-of-life HDD availability in a simulation model. Results showed that adding REEs to HDD recycling was profitable given current prices. As a result, recovered REEs could meet up to 5.1% rest of world (excluding China) magnet demand. Aluminum, gold, copper scrap and REEs were the primary main revenue streams from HDD recycling.},
doi = {10.1007/s11837-017-2399-2},
journal = {JOM. Journal of the Minerals, Metals & Materials Society},
number = 9,
volume = 69,
place = {United States},
year = 2017,
month = 6
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
This content will become publicly available on June 5, 2018
Publisher's Version of Record

Save / Share:
  • The development of technologies that contribute to the proper disposal and treatment of electronic waste is not just an environmental need, but an opportunity for the recovery and recycle of valuable metals and critical materials. Value elements in electronic waste include gold, palladium, silver, copper, nickel, and rare earth elements (RE). Here, we present the development of a process that enables efficient recycling of metals from scrap mobile electronics. An electro recycling (ER) process, based on the regeneration of Fe 3+ as a weak oxidizer, is studied for the selective recovery of base metals while leaving precious metals for separatemore » extraction at reduced chemical demand. A separate process recovers rare earth oxides from magnets in electronics. Furthermore, recovery and extraction efficiencies ca. 90 % were obtained for the extraction of base metals from the non-ferromagnetic fraction in the two different solution matrices tested (H 2SO 4, and HCl). The effect of the pre-extraction of base metals in the increase of precious metals extraction efficiency was verified. On the other hand, the extraction of rare earths from the ferromagnetic fraction, performed by means of anaerobic extraction in acid media, was assessed for the selective recovery of rare earths. We developed a comprehensive flow sheet to process electronic waste to value products.« less
  • Recycling and energy recovery from solid municipal waste is reported. The solid waste energy potential is considered and the utilization of refuse-derived fuels (RDF) is reviewed. A conclusion is reached that a sanitary landfill is the cheapest of all the resource recovery systems at present, as the sorting of the waste is a problem and the recycling and energy recovery are not economical.
  • Waste dust generated during manufacturing of LED contains significant amounts of gallium and indium, needs suitable treatment and can be an important resource for recovery. The LED industry waste dust contains primarily gallium as GaN. Leaching followed by purification technology is the green and clean technology. To develop treatment and recycling technology of these GaN bearing e-waste, leaching is the primary stage. In our current investigation possible process for treatment and quantitative leaching of gallium and indium from the GaN bearing e-waste or waste of LED industry dust has been developed. To recycle the waste and quantitative leaching of gallium,more » two different process flow sheets have been proposed. In one, process first the GaN of the waste the LED industry dust was leached at the optimum condition. Subsequently, the leach residue was mixed with Na{sub 2}CO{sub 3}, ball milled followed by annealing, again leached to recover gallium. In the second process, the waste LED industry dust was mixed with Na{sub 2}CO{sub 3}, after ball milling and annealing, followed acidic leaching. Without pretreatment, the gallium leaching was only 4.91 w/w % using 4 M HCl, 100 °C and pulp density of 20 g/L. After mechano-chemical processing, both these processes achieved 73.68 w/w % of gallium leaching at their optimum condition. The developed process can treat and recycle any e-waste containing GaN through ball milling, annealing and leaching. - Highlights: • Simplest process for treatment of GaN an LED industry waste developed. • The process developed recovers gallium from waste LED waste dust. • Thermal analysis and phase properties of GaN to Ga{sub 2}O{sub 3} and GaN to NaGaO{sub 2} revealed. • Solid-state chemistry involved in this process reported. • Quantitative leaching of the GaN was achieved.« less
  • Cited by 14