Noveon targets rare earth magnet production with recycled inputs

Noveon’s Mission to Revolutionize Rare Earth Magnet Supply with Recycling Technology

Noveon Magnetics Inc., a Texas-based company, claims that rare earth magnets play a crucial role in electrification and its EcoFlux magnets are set to revolutionize the way the world generates electricity. The company asserts that these magnets are essential for almost all high-tech, low-carbon technologies, including electric vehicle motors, biogas and landfill renewable energy, as well as solar, wind, and hydropower. According to Adamas Intelligence, Toronto, global consumption of neodymium (NdFeB) magnets increased by 18.1% in 2021 and is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 8.6% through 2035, driven by strong growth in electric vehicles and wind power.

Noveon takes a sustainable approach to magnet production, reducing waste and hazardous byproducts, while producing a superior product. Currently, less than 1% of rare earth magnets are recovered or recycled, but Noveon’s magnet-to-magnet recycling technology hopes to tap into the estimated 600,000-ton supply of end-of-life magnets.

Scott Dunn, CEO of Noveon, says the company was initially founded as Urban Mining Co. and rebranded to Noveon in 2022. He explains that the focus was on how a recycling business model could be established and quickly became centered on rare earth magnets. In addition to circularity, Noveon is also concerned with geopolitical and supply chain risks associated with these materials.

Noveon developed novel magnetic products and processes in 2012 and commercially produced the first magnets using grain boundary engineering and recycling technology in 2014. The company set up a pilot plant in Austin, Texas in 2016 and began constructing a commercial site in San Marcos, Texas in 2018. In 2020, Noveon received a $28.8 million investment from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), which recognized NdFeB magnets as essential components for its miniaturization and high-performance programs.

Noveon recently commissioned its San Marcos site and is partnering with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and recyclers to create a closed-loop system for rare earth magnets. Dunn says the company is a magnet manufacturer first with unique product and process capabilities and that their technology is material agnostic and enables the use of recycled inputs while delivering required performance. He notes that Noveon is inventing a recovery economy for these materials, which has not existed previously.

Noveon is working with OEMs and recyclers in North America to recover rare earth magnets, and is teaching its raw material suppliers how to disassemble items for magnet recovery. The company is also recycling electric scooters, hard disk drives from data centers, and rotors from automotive assembly plants.

According to Dunn, Noveon has an advantage over other companies targeting the recycling of rare earth magnets because they produce magnet products under the Ecoflux moniker instead of oxides, which requires energy and has an environmental impact. He adds that Noveon is physically extracting magnetic material from various streams, while other companies are relying on chemistry, which produces oxides that will have to be sold back to China, perpetuating the problem of a domestic supply chain for these materials.