Agreement inked to develop hydrogen recycling of end-of-life wind turbine magnets

25th January 2022 By: Donna Slater - Creamer Media Contributing Editor and Photographer

Magnet metal and rare earths miner Pensana has signed a cooperation agreement with oil, gas and wind power company Equinor, forming a working group to share technical and commercial information to develop a low-energy method for recycling end-of-life magnets at Pensana’s rare earths hub in the Saltend Chemical Park, in the UK.

Pensana chairperson Paul Atherley says the agreement relates to processing end-of-life magnets from wind turbine nacelles using properties found in hydrogen as a powerful reductant.

Recycling permanent magnets using hydrogen not as a fuel, but as a reductant, while also benefitting from the decarbonised power supply within Saltend, offers the parties a clean alternative that uses 88% less energy than virgin magnet manufacture.

It also aligns with Pensana's continued efforts to produce a sustainable supply chain for these critical materials.

The partnership with Equinor supports Pensana’s commitment to the circular economy as it looks to recycle an addressable yearly market of 4 000 t of end-of-life permanent magnets.

As such, Equinor has submitted plans for its Hydrogen to Humber Saltend hydrogen production facility into Phase 2 of the UK government’s cluster sequencing process.

The facility will be supported by the potential supply of hydrogen to Pensana and other regional hydrogen users, which Pensana says could be a world first and a catalyst for Humber to achieve net zero.

In addition to its hub in the UK, Pensana also operates the Longonjo rare earths project in Angola.