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University of Birmingham purchases Bunting rare earth roll separator

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Global Mining Review,

The University of Birmingham has purchased a laboratory-scale Rare Earth Roll Separator from Bunting for their School of Metallurgy and Minerals lithium-ion battery recycling research facility. The high-intensity magnetic separator enables the separation of very weakly magnetic particles.

Bunting is one of the world’s leading designers and manufacturers of magnetic separators for the recycling and waste industries. The Bunting European manufacturing facilities are in Redditch, just outside Birmingham, and Berkhamsted, both in the UK.

Battery recycling research

The Faraday Institution is funding the Recycling and Reuse of Li-ion Batteries (ReLiB) project, researching the reclamation, reuse and recycling of batteries used in electric vehicles. As a key part of the project, the School of Metallurgy and Minerals of the University of Birmingham has established a new research facility assessing the chemical and physical challenges of effectively managing the re-use and recycling used car batteries. This includes a battery shredding facility and a range of physical separation equipment.

Metal separation

Throughout the project, the team from the University of Birmingham worked closely with Bunting applications engineers based at the Redditch manufacturing plant in the UK. The university team regularly use the wide range of laboratory-scale separation equipment at Bunting’s Customer Experience Centre in Redditch, including a state-of-the-art ElectroStatic Separator.

Previously, the university purchased a laboratory-scale Metal Separation Module comprising of a high-strength Rare Earth Drum Magnet and Eddy Current Separator. This focuses on the recovery of non-ferrous metallics.

The new laboratory-scale Rare Earth Roll Separator works in conjunction with other separation equipment, enabling the separation of various anode and cathode materials from the shredded battery components.

High-intensity magnetic separation

The Rare Earth Roll Separator features a 200 mm dia. head pulley on a short conveyor, constructed using high-strength permanent neodymium rare earth magnet rings sandwiched between steel pole pieces. A vibratory feeder delivers an even, controlled feed of shredded material onto a thin conveyor belt. This belt transports the material into the high-intensity magnetic field of the head pulley, which attracts magnetically susceptible metals and materials, altering their final trajectory and enabling a separation using a strategically placed splitter.

For optimum separation, the Rare Earth Roll features a radial magnetic field with the poles running in the same direction as the material flow.

Recycling advances reliant on technology

Technology plays a key role in the successful management of secondary materials such as lithium-ion batteries. With virgin raw material reserves under severe pressure, successful ‘urban mining’ of secondary and waste materials enables the recovery of valuable metals and rare earth elements. Magnetic and ElectroStatic separation provide environmentally friendly mechanical solutions for physical segregation and subsequent recycling.

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